Plant Description

Barbarea verna

Land cress

The various forms of cress are nutritious members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae). that can be grown in part-shade. A biennial or short-lived perennial, this one, known as land cress (ht 15 cm) is similar to garden cress (Lepidium sativum) an annual plant, familiar to many from childhood, when it was grown on a piece of cotton wool as 'mustard and cress' (though it can be grown beyond this stage and can eventually get to about 60 cm tall). In my experience, land cress seems to grow quite well for a couple of years, regrowing after each harvest of its piquant, peppery leaves. Eventually, it does lose its vitality and should be replaced with fresh plants.

It grows best in part-shade and enjoys moisture in the soil, but it doesn't actually have to be grown in water like true watercress (Nasturtium officinale), which naturally grows in streams. The leaves of land cress are more tender than those of true watercress. Land cress should be grown in organic-rich soil and given regular applications of liquid fertiliser. It may be attacked by the white cabbage moth. If this is a problem, it could be grown in a trough under a mesh-covered frame to exclude this pest.

All forms of cress can be eaten in sandwiches, soup, garnishes and salads. The leaves are rich in vitamins A, B, C and E, and also contain iron and calcium.


Barbarea verna
Plant Family: Brassicaceae