Herb: Hoary Cress

Latin name: Cardaria draba

Synonyms: Lepidium draba

Family: Cruciferae

Medicinal use of Hoary Cress:

The plant is antiscorbutic. The seeds have been used as a cure for flatulence and fish poison. It is assumed that this report is referring to food poisoning caused by eating suspect fish.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

A weed of arable fields, it is spreading rapidly in Britain.

Edible parts of Hoary Cress:

Young leaves and shoots - raw in salads or cooked as a potherb. A report says that the young leaves contain the toxin hydrogen cyanide, though does not give any more details. In small quantities this substance is fairly harmless, and has even been recommended as having health benefits, but caution is suggested if you eat these leaves. The pungent leaves are used as a seasoning. The seed is used as a condiment, it is a pepper substitute.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow in situ in spring. There is very little need to encourage this plant, it is a rapidly spreading weed in Britain. Division in spring.

Cultivation of Hoary Cress:

A weed of arable fields, it is spreading rapidly in Britain.

Known hazards of Cardaria draba:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.