Yellow Rocket, St. Barbara’s Herb, Herb Barbara, Wintercress, Bittercress, Rocketcress, Yellow Rocketcress, Wound Rocket, Creasy, Creecy, Creesy, Cressy Greens, Upland Cress
Barbarea vulgaris W.T.Aiton is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Yellow Rocket. It was named and described as such by William Townsend Aiton in the second edition of Hortus Kewensis in 1812.
Some websites and databases have the scientific name written as Barbarea vulgaris R.Br. including Plants of the World Online. The link to IPNI (who lists it the other way) states: “Although R. Brown is considered to have authored the Brassicaceae treatment in Hortus kew. ed. 2 (see TL-2 Suppl. III: 141; Vienna Code Art. 46.7 Ex. 29).), W. T. Aiton, the publishing author, did not mention or indicate R. Brown’s name for Brassicaceae; therefore, W. T. Aiton is author of the Brassicaceae novelties in his work.”
I am using the scientific name Barbarea vulgaris W.T.Aiton as the International Plants Names Index and Tropicos does and since Aiton was the actual publishing author. The genus name is the same way.
Plants of the World Online by Kew currently lists 27 accepted species in the Barbarea genus. It is a member of the Brassicaceae Family (Mustard Family) which includes 345 genera. These numbers reflect what POWO says as of 8-16-19 when I am writing this page but those numbers could change.
Although Barbara vulgaris is not a native of the United States, it is found throughout much of North America.
The genus gets its name from St. Barbara who is the patron saint of artillerymen. The plant was once used to soothe wounds caused by explosions.
There are several members of the Brassicaceae Family that look very similar from a distance but not all have yellow flowers. Horseradish, for one, has white flowers. Some have large edible roots.
Barbarea vulgaris is a herbaceous biennial that normally grows to around 30” in height. The first year they form a rosette of basal leaves and flower their second rear.
Origin: Eurasia and North Africa
Zones: USDA Zones 2a-9b (-45 to 25° F)
Size: 12-24” tall. Some information says up to 36” tall
Light: Sun to part shade
Flowers: Yellow flowers from late spring through early fall
The abundant flowers, up to 1/3” across, have four petals, which have four yellow-green sepals. Flowers are replaced by a slender seed pod (siliques). Bees and other insects feed on the nectar and pollen of this plant and a few caterpillars feed on their leaves and flowers. There are also several beetle species that feed on their leaves.
Barbarea vulgaris prefers growing in full sun, although they do grow partly shay areas as well. They prefer growing in moist soil and dryer conditions provide less growth. Most of their growth occurs during the spring when temperatures are still cool.
Although their leaves are edibles in the spring, they become somewhat bitter later.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
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