Common Name: Wild Mustard.
Scientific Name: Sinapis Arvensis.
What to look for? Clusters of tiny yellow flowers on a lanky plant. The Wild Mustard stems are green, erect, and amply branched. There is often a reddish-purple ring at the junction of a new stem developing from an older stem - this is a distinctive characteristic of several mustard plants. The upper stems terminate in racemes of tightly packed, short-stalked yellow flowers. Each flower has four (4) yellow petals, six (6) stamens, and a single green pistil in the center. As the flower matures, the petals fall off and the pistil elongates into a narrow seedpod, which contains tiny dark brown seeds. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.
Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Wild Mustard pops up all around our walking area. You can find along the walking paths between our Carillon Stonegate Ponds as well as in the open fields around the forest preserve.
How big are they? Wild Mustard may grow up to three (3) feet tall. Individual flowers are approximately one-half (1/2) of an inch across. The oval or oblong leaves are approximately six (6) inch long and two (2) inches across.
Where do they grow and thrive? Wild Mustard is a common plant across much of the U.S., including Illinois. It was introduced into the United States from Eurasia. The preferred habitats are disturbed areas along woodland edges, fields, roadsides, railroads, shores, and waste areas.
When do they bloom? The blooming period of Wild Mustard occurs from late spring to early fall and lasts about two (2) months for a colony of plants.
Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? Small bees and flies will visit the flowers of Wild Mustard for its nectar or pollen. Occasionally, Cabbage White and other small White butterflies will seek out the flowers for nectar. Similarly, their caterpillars may feed on the foliage. Birds in the Midwest do not find the oily seeds of Wild Mustards tasty, but they are more important as a food source for birds in California and the Pacific Coast. The Mourning Dove may eat the seeds. Rabbits will also eat the leaves of Mustards occasionally.
Interesting Facts About Wild Mustard:
The seeds of Wild Mustard can remain viable in the ground for up to 60 years.
Other common names for Wild Mustard are Charlock and Crunchweed.
For more information on the Wild Mustard and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, Minnesota Wildflowers, and Michigan State University Plant and Pest Diagnostics.
The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.
Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!