Mountain Pepperplant (Mountain Pepperweed, Peppergrass)
Family: Brassicaceae (A Utah Flora – Cruciferae) – Mustard Family
Perennial or biennial herbs; stems 1.2” to 3.9' (0.3 to 12 dm) tall
Leaves: basal or basal and alternate; simple; entire to pinnatifid; can have hairs; 0.2” to 5” (0.5 to 12.5 cm) long, 0.12” to 1” (3 to 25 mm) wide
Flowers: 4 white petals in the shape of a cross or crucifer; 4 sepals; typically 6 stamens (with 2 outer shorter than the inner 4); 1 pistil; flowers in corymbs or racemes; usually radially symmetrical; nectar glands commonly 4; petals 0.1 to 0.14” (2.5 to 3.5 mm) long
Pollinators: other Lepidium species are pollinated by insects
Fruits: silique - a pod with 2 compartments with a thin partition
Blooms in Arches National Park: March, April, May, June, July, August
Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities
Location seen: widespread, upper Courthouse wash, Windows, Fiery Furnace parking lot, Devils Garden
Other: The genus name, “Lepidium”, is from the Greek “lepis” meaning “scale” and is a reference to the flattened shape of the fruit pods. The species name, “montanum”, means “of the mountains”.
Many plants in this family are weeds and they flower early because they are annual. Many vegetables are in this family– radish, cabbage, cauliflower. A few species of plants in this family are poisonous to livestock.
Did You Know?
In the late 1800s, John Wesley Wolfe, a disabled Civil War veteran, and his son, Fred, built a homestead in what is now Arches National Park. A weathered log cabin, root cellar, and corral remain as evidence of the primitive ranch they operated for more than 10 years.