Herb: Pennycress

Latin name: Thlaspi arvense

Family: Cruciferae

Medicinal use of Pennycress:

Antirheumatic, diuretic. The seed is a tonic. Both the seed and the young shoots are said to be good for the eyes. The seeds are used in Tibetan medicine and are considered to have an acrid taste and a cooling potency. They are anti-inflammatory and febrifuge, being used in the treatment of pus in the lungs, renal inflammation, appendicitis, seminal and vaginal discharges. The entire plant is antidote, anti-inflammatory, blood tonic, depurative, diaphoretic, expectorant, febrifuge and hepatic. It is used in the treatment of carbuncles, acute appendicitis, intestinal abscess, post-partum pain, dysmenorrhoea and endometriosis. Use with caution since large doses can cause a decrease in white blood cells, nausea and dizziness. The plant has a broad antibacterial activity, effective against the growth of Staphylococci and streptococci.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Waste places and a weed of cultivated ground where it can be a serious pest.

Edible parts of Pennycress:

Young leaves - raw or cooked. They should always be harvested before the plant comes into flower or they will be very bitter. Even the young leaves have a somewhat bitter flavour and aroma, and are not to everyone's taste. They can be added in small quantities to salads and other foods. They can also be cooked in soups or used as a potherb, they taste somewhat like mustard but with a hint of onion. For a leaf, it is very rich in protein. The seed is ground into a powder and used as a mustard substitute. The seed can be sprouted and added to salads.

Other uses of the herb:

The seed contains 20 - 30% of a semi-drying oil, it is used for lighting.

Propagation of Pennycress:

Seed - sow in situ in March or April.

Cultivation of the herb:

Waste places and a weed of cultivated ground where it can be a serious pest.

Known hazards of Thlaspi arvense:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.