Lepidium virginicum, also known as Virginia pepperweed or peppergrass, is an annual or biennial plant in the Brassicaceae or mustard family. It is native to much of North America, including most of the United States and Mexico and southern regions of Canada, as well as most of Central America. It can be found elsewhere as an introduced species.
As with Lepidium campestre, Virginia pepperweed's most identifiable characteristic is its raceme, which comes from the plant's highly branched stem. The racemes give Virginia pepperweed the appearance of a bottlebrush. On the racemes are first small white flowers, and later greenish fruits. The entire plant is generally between 10 and 50 centimeters tall.
The leaves on the stems of Virginia pepperweed are sessile, linear to lanceolate and get larger as they approach the base. Note that all parts of the plant have a peppery taste.
Cultivation and uses
The plant is edible. The young leaves can be used as a potherb, sauted or used raw, such as in salads. The young seedpods can be used as a substitute for black pepper. The leaves contain protein, vitamin A and vitamin C.
- Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. Ditomaso, Weeds of The Northeast, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), Pp. 178-179.
- Allen Peterson, Edible Wild Plants, (New York City: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977), p. 26.
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