Lepidium spinescens DC.
Annual, 30-60 cm tall, erect, branched, glabrous, rarely pilose. Lower leaves pinnatisect or lyrate-pinnate, 4-10 cm long, 2.5-3.5 cm broad, stalked to subsessile; uppermost leaves linear, sessile. Racemes much branched, each 20-30-flowered, ebracteate. Flowers small, c. 3 mm across, white or pinkish; pedicel 2-3 (-5) mm long in fruit, not thickened, ± ascending or subappressed. Sepals c. 1.5 mm long, 1 mm broad, oblong, obtuse. Petals c. 3 mm long, 1 mm broad, narrowed below, apex rounded. Stamens 6, c. 1.8 : 2.2 mm long; anthers minute. Siliculae 4.5-6 mm long, 3.5-5 mm broad, broadly elliptic to suborbicular, glabrous, narrowly winged and distinctly notched at the apex with short style included with-in; septum c. 1 mm broad; seed c. 3 mm long, 1 mm broad, brown.
Fl. Per.: April-June.
Type: Described from Europe, Herb.Linn.no.824/11 (LINN).
Distribution: Native of Egypt & W. Asia; introduced and naturalized elsewhere or cultivated throughout the world.
Two varieties (or subspecies) are commonly recognized on the basis of fruiting axes not spine-tipped (var. sativum), and fruiting axes spine-tipped (var. spinescens (DC.) Jafri, stat. nov. = Lepidium spinescens DC., Syst.Nat.2 :534.1821 ; Lepidium sativum subsp. spinescens (DC.) Thell.,l.c.161). However, intermediate forms are not uncommon. The difference can only be ascertained in advanced fruiting stages. Among specimens quoted above, those in an advanced fruiting stage, mostly show a spinescent apex of varying length (5-25 mm long).
‘Garden cress' is both cultivated and wild, or an escape from cultivation, in the present area. It is a common weed of cultivated areas in Baluchistan and N.W.F.P. Fresh leaves are edible as salad and seed contain 58% fatty oil, suitable for illumination.