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PlantFiles: Virginia Pepperweed,Peppergrass, Pepper Grass, Poor Man's Pepper
Lepidium virginicum

Family: Brassicaceae (brass-ih-KAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Lepidium (lep-PID-ee-um) (Info)
Species: virginicum (vir-JIN-ih-kum) (Info)

5 members have or want this plant for trade.


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)
9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer

Unknown - Tell us

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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By Floridian
Thumbnail #1 of Lepidium virginicum by Floridian

By poppysue
Thumbnail #2 of Lepidium virginicum by poppysue

By melody
Thumbnail #3 of Lepidium virginicum by melody

By vossner
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By melody
Thumbnail #5 of Lepidium virginicum by melody


2 positives
1 neutral
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative vossner On Mar 29, 2012, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

As many have stated, it is a weed. The entire plant is generally between 5-20" tall. Plant is edible. This plant's most identifiable characteristic is its raceme, which comes from the plant's highly branched stem. The racemes give Virginia pepperweed the appearance of a bottlebrush. On the racemes are first small white flowers, and later greenish fruits. I noticed it growing in some compost we purchased and immediately yanked it as it is difficult to eradicate once established.

Positive raisedbedbob On Feb 7, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

The leaves are a source of vitamines A and C, and iron.

Positive o0tea0o On Aug 8, 2004, o0tea0o from Calgary
Canada wrote:

This plant is very common along the Rocky Mountains, in un-disturbed areas such as road-sides, and gentle slopes. I've always called this plant 'pennycress'. Mature plants can have white blossoms on the tips, and can grow to about 1m(or roughly 3') in height. I've known the plant to be high in vitamins(especially vitamin C), and sulphur, which gives it a garlic-mustard taste. I've tried young tender leaves in sandwiches, hors d'oeuvres and salads. It can also be dried and ground into a spice, almost like pepper. Pennycress has more of a 'pepper' taste in plants that are more mature. I've also heard 'stinkweed' is a common name for pennycress. It's a great plant.

Neutral melody On Jun 13, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

A common roadside weed that grows in vacant lots and fields.

A genus of about 130 species of the mustard family, Cruciferae.

Most of the weedy species have been introduced from Europe and are usually annuals...although there are a few biennial and perrinial ones also.

The common link is that the leaves and seed capsules have a biting peppery taste and is one of the reasons for the common name 'Poor Man's Pepper'

Usually an undesireable weed, but I have found that the dried seed stems make a great addition to dried arrangements and wreaths.They are sturdy and last for a long time.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bigelow, Arkansas
North Fork, California
Bartow, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Seminole, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Benton, Kentucky
Valley Lee, Maryland
Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Henderson, Tennessee
San Antonio, Texas
Martinsville, Virginia

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