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Dog mustard is in the Brassicaceae (Mustard) family. It is an annual or biennial plant which has a long taproot. The plant is native to Europe and Asia but is an introduced species in many other areas of the world, including much of Canada and the U.S. It is a weedy plant with an erect upright habit or sometimes with ascending tops with bright yellow flowers.
When looking at just the flowers, one might think all yellow mustards look alike, but dog mustard is distinguished from the others by its pale yellow flowers, narrow and erect sepals, deeply lobed leaves, ascending fruit, and the stiff hairs on sepals, leaves, stalks and stems. The leaf size can be quite variable, especially lower and basal leaves, and may be affected by moisture and other environmental conditions.
Elongating clusters of stalked flowers are at the top of the plant and at the ends of branching stems. A small cluster of a few to several flowers bloom at the tip and fruit form below. Flowers are pale yellow to nearly white, measuring 6 to 8mm (1/4 to 1/3”) across. Four petals are rounded, spatula shaped, narrowed at the base, the tip half widely spreading. In the centre are 6 yellow stamens and a short style. Flowers are in bloom from April well into the summer months.
Leaves are deeply divided, oblong or widest near the tip (oblanceolate) in outline. They are pinnately lobed with 3 to 10 major lobes per side, the lobes are mostly narrow with the edges shallowly lobed and rounded or angled at lobe tips. Leaf surfaces and leaf stalks are sparsely covered in stiff, and curved.
Dog mustard plants can grow to 60 cm (2') tall. Stems are usually branched, erect to ascending, and sparsely to moderately covered in stiff, curved, appressed white hairs.
This mustard likes part shade or full sun. It likes disturbed soils; agricultural fields, roadsides, waste areas, and gravel pits.
Leaves and flowers are edible.
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