Barbarea vulgaris-Yellow Rocket, ETC.

Barbarea vulgaris (Yellow Rocket, ETC.) on 5-1-19, #564-8.

Yellow Rocket, St. Barbara’s Herb, Herb Barbara, Wintercress, Bittercress, Rocketcress, Yellow Rocketcress, Wound Rocket, Creasy, Creecy, Creesy, Cressy Greens, Upland Cress

Barbarea vulgaris

bar-BAR-ree-uh  vul-GAIR-iss
Synonyms of Barbarea vulgaris: Arabis barbarea Bernh., Barbarea abortiva Hausskn., Barbarea altaica Andrz. ex Steud., Barbarea arcuata f. pubescens (Busch) Kuusk, Barbarea augustana Boiss., Barbarea barbarea subsp. brachycarpa (Rouy & Foucaud) Piper, Barbarea barbarea var. longisiliquosa (Carion) Farw., Barbarea hirsuta Weihe, Barbarea iberica (Willd.) DC., Barbarea kayseri Schur, Barbarea linnaei Spenn., Barbarea lyrata Asch., Barbarea macrophylla Halácsy, Barbarea pyrenaica Jord., Barbarea rivularis Martrin-Donos, Barbarea rupestris Steud., Barbarea sicula Gren. & Godr., Barbarea stolonifera Pomel, Barbarea sylvestris Jord., Barbarea vicina Martrin-Donos, Barbarea vulgaris var. brachycarpa Rouy & Foucaud, Barbarea vulgaris var. longisiliquosa Carion, Campe barbarea (Garsault) W.Wight, Campe barbarea var. hirsuta (Weihe) House, Campe rivularis (Martrin-Donos) A.Heller, Crucifera barbaraea (L.) E.H.L.Krause, Eruca barbarea Lam., Erysimum barbarea L., Erysimum lucidum Salisb., Erysimum lyrifolium Stokes, Sisymbrium barbarea Crantz

Barbarea vulgaris W.T.Aiton is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Yellow Rocket. The genus and species were 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. The link to IPNI 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.” 

Plants of the World Online by Kew still list 27 accepted species in the Barbarea genus as of when I am updating this page on 1-17-20. It is a member of the Brassicaceae Family (Mustard Family) which includes 345 genera. Those numbers could change.


Distribution map of Barbarea vulgaris from Plants of the World Online.Plants of the World Online. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 1-17-20.

Barbarea vulgaris is a widely distributed plant. The above map from Plants of the World Online, used by permission, shows where the species is native in green and purple where it has been introduced. It is possibly more widespread.

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 links at the bottom of the page for further reading.

Barbarea vulgaris (Yellow Rocket) on 5-1-19, #564-9.

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. 


Barbarea vulgaris (Yellow Rocket) on 5-1-19, #564-10.

Family: Brassicaceae
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 


Barbarea vulgaris (Yellow Rocket) on 5-1-19, #564-11.

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 (Yellow Rocket) on 5-1-19, #564-12.

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.

I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at I would enjoy hearing from you.