Lepidium latifolium L., Sp. Pl. 644 1753. (syn: Cardaria latifolia (L.) Spach; Crucifera latifolia (L.) E.H.L.Krause; Lepidium dioscorides Bubani; Lepidium latifolium subsp. affine (Ledeb.) Kitag. ; Lepidium latifolium var. affine (Ledeb.) C.A. Mey.; Lepidium latifolium var. mongolicum Franch.; Lepidium latifolium subsp. sibiricum (Schweigg.) Thell.; Lepidium sativum var. latifolium DC.; Lepidium sibiricum Schweigg.; Nasturtiastrum latifolium (L.) Gillet & Magne; Nasturtium latifolium (L.) Crantz; Nasturtium latifolium (L.) Kuntze);
Lepidium latifolium, known by several common names including broadleaved pepperweed, pepperwort, or peppergrass, dittander, dittany, and tall whitetop, is a perennial plant that is a member of the mustard and cabbage family.
This plant is native to southern Europe, Mediterranean countries and Asia as far east as the Himalayas. It is an introduced species in North America, where it grows throughout the United States and Mexico, and Australia. It may have been introduced to the United States when its seed got into a shipment of sugar beet seeds.
L. latifolium normally grows to between 30 centimeters and 1 meter, but may grow as tall as 2 meters. The plants have numerous woody stems, alternating waxy leaves and clusters of small, white flowers. It produces small (1.6 millimeter) fruits which each contain two reddish seeds. It has an extensive root network, known to reach 9 feet in depth and constitute 40% of the total biomass of the plant.
Dried stems of L. latifolium are sometimes used in flower arrangements.
The plant is most invasive in wetland habitat, including riparian zone; from there it easily spreads to other ecosystems, such as sagebrush.The leaves, shoots, and fruits of this plant are all edible.
In Ladakh in the Himalayas, the spring leaves are prized as a vegetable. The peppery edge or bitterness is removed by first boiling the young shoots and leaves, and then soaking in water for two days. Cooked like spinach, it makes a nutritious vegetable.
(from Wikipedia on 5.9.16)
Brassicaceae Week: Lepidium latifolium from California: Lepidium latifolium L. Sp. Pl. 2: 644, 1753
Common names: broadleaf-pepperwort, perennial pepperwort, dittander
Tall perennial herb, branched, woody at base; lower leaves ovate-lanceolate, up to 15 cm long, entire or serrate, on up to 8 cm long petioles, upper leaves smaller with shorter petioles, uppermost sessile; flowers white to slightly pinkish, 2-2.5 mm across on up to 5 mm long pedicels, forming ebracteate corymbose racemes; silicula ovate-orbicuar, about 2 mm, scarcely emarginate.
SK56JUL27-2016:ID : 6 posts by 2 authors. Attachments (3)
Enclosing some pictures for identification.
Location : Sangam, Leh
Date: 240August 2014
Cannot suggest any genera at this time.
This seems from Brassicaceae only…!!
These images taken at Sangam, Leh initially defeated me but I am now thinking about the possibility of Lepidium latifolium (or perhaps L.obtusum) – though I am not certain about distinguishing between the two, particularly as the 3 images only reveal a few clues.
I have just noticed in ‘Vascular plant flora of Lower Ladakh..” Klimes & Dickore, that they have in the list of species found in Brassicaceae (formerly Cruciferae) Lepidium cf. latifolium from dry screes, dumps, along road banks. They say that L.obtusum differs from L.latifolium by sepals persistent in fruit and racemes not elongated in fruit – was only recently found in Ladakh. Their records may refer to both species.
There may well be other characteristics found to distinguish them but clearly one cannot distinguish between them on the basis of the images here.
According to ‘Flowers of the Himalaya’, Lepidium latifolium (commonly known as ‘Dittander’) is common on stony slopes in Ladakh. Distributed from Afghanistan to Kashmir (3000-3600m), W.Asia, Europe, N.Africa. A species with such a wide distribution is likely to be considered to have varieties and perhaps subspecies, which when studied further may be elevated to specific rank.
Stewart noted it was common in much of N.Pakistan and Ladakh @ 1500-3900m (quite a bit different to range given in ‘Flowers of Himalaya’). He comments, “Although there is much difference between the xerophytic specimens in the inner, drier regions and those in the Kashmir Valley I agree with Hedge that it is hardly possible to maintain subspecies and varieties”. Maybe now, with further study, that is no longer the case, such that perhaps the variants in Ladakh may all be included within a different species to L.latifolium one day? Obviously, this cannot be deduced from the 3 images taken at Sangam.
In ‘Flora of Lahaul-Spiti’ L.latifolium is described as being frequent on open slopes. It is clear that further study and revision of the genus is required (Stewart back in the 1970s commented for a different genus in the Brassicaceae, Malcomia that further study was required using modern cytological methods). The authors list L.apetalum as frequent in sandy soils (in FBI it was under L.ruderale a European species) yet they also have L.virginicum (also giving L.ruderale as a synonym) which they say how they distinguish it from – which they record as frequent on open slopes and along roadsides at Khoksar. Dickore & Klimes do not list L.virginicum from Ladakh. Stewart only has the species as a dubious record from Murree (what was an old British ‘hill-station) in Pakistan.
This species is found in the UK, another common name there is ‘Broad-leaved Pepperwort’. It is found in salt-marshes and wet sand. Many plants in Ladakh tolerate ‘salty’ conditions, indeed some are halophytes. Many will know of salt lakes in Ladakh (and Tibet proper). It was formerly cultivated as a condiment. I have not seen it myself in the UK (it is rather rare) but a photo I have seen did not bring the images taken at Sangam to mind.