The field pepperwort or field pepperweed or field cress (Lepidium campestre (L.) W.T. Aiton) is an annual herbaceous species belonging to the Brassicaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
L. campestre species.
Basionimo is the term:
– Thlaspi campestre L ..
The term is synonymous:
– Lepidium campestre (L.) R. Br ..
The term Lepidium comes from the Greek λεπίδιον lepídion diminutive of λεπίϛ lepís squama (of fish), scales: due to the shape of the siliquettes similar to small scales.
The specific rural epithet comes from campus, flat place, field: that grows in the fields.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Lepidium campestre is a plant native to Europe and present in most of the continent, including Great Britain, towards western Asia and the Caucasus and commonly present in North America as a weed.
This plant with an originally Eurimediterranean-Caucasian distribution, often of ancient introduction to the margins of the range (archaeophyte), is present in all regions of Italy.
Its habitat is that of ruderal vegetation, in weed crops, along the roads, near landfills, on clayey-loamy soils mostly carbonate, quite fresh and rich in nitrogen compounds, below the mountain belt.
The Lepidium campestre is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant, greyish.
It has an erect stem, generally monocaule, pubescent due to the close-up hairs, branchy-corymbose at the top and which develops up to a height of 20-50 cm and has a tap root.
The basal leaves are up to 6 cm long, petiolate, generally withered upon anthesis, undivided or more often lyrate-pinnatofesse with irregular lateral lobes subrotondo, the terminal oval; the caulins of 7-10 x 25-33 mm, are alternate, sessile, erect-patent, triangular or ovate-lanceolate, astate and semiamplessicauli, pubescent and with sinuous-indented margins.
The inflorescence is in dense aphilous multiflorous racemes, elongated during anthesis (up to 25 cm), with minute hermaphroditic flowers on patent pedicels, densely pubescent with 0.2 mm hairs.
The calyx is with sepals of about 1,5 mm, oval, subglabrous or subvillose. The corolla is tetramera with white petals (about 2 mm), just longer than the sepals. It has 6 stamens with yellow anthers; bicarpellar supero ovary with short (0.4-0.5 mm) persistent style; stigma clavate.
The fruit is a shield-shaped siliquet, hairless, of 4×5 mm, with wings of 1,5-2 mm in the upper quarter, biloba, covered with scales, smarginata, with the stylus included between the lobes that equals or just surpasses apical bleed. The 2×1 mm seeds are ovoid, tuberculous-papillose, brown.
The Lepidium campestre is a plant that grows in disturbed soils and uncultivated places and that can tolerate most soils.
It is a plant of easy cultivation, which is successful in most soils and which can be propagated by seed with sowing to be carried out in spring or autumn directly in the open field.
Germination should take place within 3 weeks.
Customs and Traditions –
Lepidium campestre is a plant whose still tender leaves can be eaten as vegetables, added raw to salads or boiled for a few minutes.
The young fruits and si emi can be used as a spice, with a taste intermediate between black pepper and mustard.
In the past the plant was also used as a diuretic, antiscorbutic and anti-haemorrhagic.
The leaves contain proteins, vitamin A and vitamin C.
This plant is being studied at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) for its potential as an oilseed crop.
Unlike any other oilseed crop, this plant can be highly productive in the northern parts of temperate regions and has been successfully grown in Umeå, Sweden (40km south of the Arctic Circle), where it can have a correspondingly high yield. to 3.3 tons / Ha.
In addition, Lepidium campestre provides important ecosystem services as it serves as a cover crop during the winter and can be sown as a spring cereal.
The oil from this plant is suitable for various industrial applications such as the production of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO).
ULS researchers have identified and mapped several genes from this plant that are known to be important for traits related to domestication such as flowering time, pod breaking and seed dormancy.
Preparation Method –
The young leaves and shoots of Lepidium campestre were once often eaten raw in salads or boiled; immature siliquettes were used as a spice for the spicy flavor.
It is advisable to collect the edible parts in the spring.
Immature pods have a pungent flavor and can be used as a topping in hot soups and stews.
The seed can be used as a substitute for pepper.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.