Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Brassicaceae (Mustard) family members are easy to distinguish - with few exceptions, the flowers have 4 petals and 4 sepals; 6 stamens (4 long and 2 short); and 2 rows of seeds on a pistil that is partitioned lengthwise into 2 divisions.

Familar cultivated Family members include Mustard, Radishes, Watercress, Cauliflower, BokChoy and Broccoli. Rock Cress (Arabis), Wallflower (Erysimum) and Stock (Matthiola incana) are popular native ornamental species for gardens. Four of the species included here are aliens that are so pervasive in the area that they merit identification.

Brassicaceae Family members found on Montara Mountain include:

Arabis blepharophylla - (Rose Rock Cress)

Arabis glabra - (Tower Mustard)

Barbarea vulgaris - (Common Winter Cress)

Brassica birapa - (Field Mustard)

Dentaria cardimine californica - (Milkmaids)

Erysimum franciscanum - (San Francisco Wallflower)

Hirschfeldia incana - (Summer Mustard)

Lobularia maritima - (Sweet Alysum)

Raphanus sativus - (Wild Radish)



Arabis blepharophylla :
Rose (Coast) Rock Cress

Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Flowers: Rose-purple to pink with white centers, four petals, up to 1 in across. Very fragrant.

Blooms: March - May

Leaves: Long, with distinct individual hairs on edges; in rosette at base of stem.

Fruit/Seeds: ??

Location: Rocky slopes; Saddle pass, San Pedro Mountain.

Status: Native - Rare.

Arabis blepharophylla
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The distinctive shape and coloring of the Rose Rock Cress make it easy to spot and identify. Photo by Mike Vasey

Further description & Comment:

This shot shows the basal leave arrangement at the base of the plant. Look in rocky areas around the saddle pass and the top of San Bruno Mountain for this rare flower. 



Barbarea vulgaris :
Common Winter Cress

Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Flowers: Yellow - pale yellow, four petals, 12 - 16 mm across ; developing from greenish berry-like buds bunched atop numerous stems.

Blooms: March - September

Leaves: Basal (base) leaves have a large, rounded terminal lobe and 1 - 2 pairs of linear leaflets. Upper pinnate (opposing pairs) leaves clasping stem.

Fruit/Seeds: Small pods 2 - 3 cm long on stems where flower were.

Location: Along trails and roads up to 700 ' elevation throughout the mountain.

Status: Alien - Invasive: Spreading along trails.

Barbarea vulgaris
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Other Comments: Mature plant 8 - 16 " tall. Very closely related to the native Barbarea orthoceras (Erectpod Winter Cress), so much so that I'm not even sure which plant this is in these photos. But the european B. vulgaris has become so pervasive, it is most likely the one shown here. The leaves of both are edible, though, and are said to be quite tasty in salads.

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Photo above shows full, mature B. vulgaris - note the distinctive "Mustard-like" leaf structure. It has a much wider range than the native B. orthoceras, which tends to limit itself to damper, lower areas.

Photo at left shows typical flower development for Barbarea sp. Round green berry-like buds in center are developing flowers. Seed pod stalks, also very typical for Brassicaceae members, can be seen below the blooms.


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