Field Cress

Lepidium campestre (L.) W.T.Aiton

Family: Brassicaceae.


Field Cress


An erect, annual or biennial herb to 600 mm tall with a basal rosette of stalked leaves and a single stem with clasping leaves, branched at the top to carry many 2 seeded pods held at right angles to the stem.



Two. The blade is 5-8 mm long with a petiole 3-5 mm long, and is hairless. The seedling has a long hypocotyl but no epicotyl.

First leaves:

The leaves arise singly, but the first two appear almost at the same time and superficially appear to be paired. The early leaves are 6-10 mm long in the blade with a petiole of the same length.


The plant forms a loose rosette that is not persistent
Stipules -
Petiole - Yes. Hairy.
Blade - Elongated egg shaped and up to 70 mm long. Tip rounded. Sides toothed, shallowly lobed or smooth and convex. Surface densely hairy.
Stem leaves - Narrowly triangular, 30-100 mm long x 30-100 mm wide. Tip pointed. Edges smooth or toothed and straight angular. Base sessile and clasping. Surface densely hairy.


Solid, circular in cross section, 200-600 mm tall and carries short hairs. The stems branch from about half way up, but have few or no branches from the base.

Flower head:

The inflorescence is terminal and forms an elongated cone (elongated raceme).


4-5 mm in diameter.
Ovary -
Sepals - 1.5 mm long.
Petals - 4, white, 2-3 mm long.
Stamens - 6.
Anthers -


Flattened, 2 seeded, pendulous, broadly egg shaped, notched capsule, 5-6 mm long x 4 mm wide and covered with scale like vesicles when dry. The capsule has 2 wide wings and is carried on a horizontal stalk (pedicel) that is 5-6 mm long. The seeds are released from the capsule when ripe.




Key Characters:

Hairy leaves.
White, 4 petalled flowers.
2 seeded pod or capsule


Life cycle:

Annual or biennial. Germination occurs in autumn and spring.



By seed.

Flowering times:

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:




Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Origin and History:



Found in many parts of Tasmania, but is somewhat local and restricted in its distributions.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.





Plant Associations:




Weed of crops and disturbed areas.
It is capable of being competitive.


Not recorded as toxic.



Management and Control:


Eradication strategies:

Manually remove isolated plants.
Prevent seed set. Spray small infested areas with 10 g/ha Eclipse® plus 500mL/ha of Brodal® plus 1% spray oil in winter each year.
Most of the Brassicaceae weeds have dormant seeds that continue to germinate throughout the season and for several years. They often mature and set seed very quickly. Manual removal is effective but must be done at least every 8-10 weeks. Once pods are formed, seed will often mature even if the plant has been uprooted. Soil disturbance often leads to a flush of seedlings.
Many are somewhat unpalatable, so grazing only offers partial control. They often flourish in under-grazed, sunny areas.
In bushland situations, fairly selective control can be achieved with 100 mL spray oil plus 0.1 g Eclipse® or 0.5 g Logran® in 10 L water. 5 mL Brodal® is often added to this mix to provide residual control of seedlings. Spray the plants until just wet from the seedling stage up to pod formation.
Isolated plants should be removed manually and burnt if flowering or seeding and a 10 m buffer area sprayed with 10 mL Brodal® in 10 L water.
500 mL/ha of glyphosate(450g/L) can be used at flowering to reduce the seed set of most species on roadsides without causing significant damage to most native plants.
Wick application with 1 part glyphosate(450g/L) in 2 parts water or overall spraying with 100 mL glyphosate(450g/L) in 10 L water provides reasonable control of most Brassicaceae species though Wild Radish tends to regrow.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Flax-leaf Alyssum (Alyssum linifolium)
Wall Cress (Arabidopsis thaliana)

Black Mustard (Brassica nigra)
Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica)
Brussels Sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera)
Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis)
Chinese Cabbage (Brassica chinensis)
Indian Mustard (Brassica juncea)
Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)
Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes)
Mediterranean Turnip (Brassica tournefortii)
Rape or Canola (Brassica napus var. napus)
Rapeseed (Brassica rapa var. sylvestris)
Savoy cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. sabauda)
Smooth Stemmed Turnip (Brassica barrelieri subsp. oxyrrhina was Brassica oxyrrhina)
Swede (Brassica napus var. napobrassica)
Turnip (Brassica rapa var. rapa)
Twiggy Turnip (Brassica fruticulosa)
Winter Rape (Brassica napus var. biennis)
Brassica elongata

Sea Rocket (Cakile maritima)
White Ball Mustard (Calepina irregularis)
Shepherd's Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
Common Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)
Wood Bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa) is not in WA.
Ward's Weed (Carrichtera annua)
Wall Rocket (Diplotaxis muralis)
Sand Rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia)
Heliophila pusilla
Oval Purse (Hornungia procumbens was Hymenobolus procumbens)

Argentine Peppercress (Lepidium bonariense) is often found around granite rocks.
Common Peppercress (Lepidium africanum) is common in WA.
Field Cress (Lepidium campestre) has clasping stem leaves.
Garden Cress (Lepidium sativa)
Hoary Cress (Lepidium draba was Cardaria draba)
Lesser Swinecress (Lepidium didymum was Coronopus didymus)
Matted Peppercress (Lepidium pubescens)
Perennial Peppercress (Lepidium latifolium)
Virginian Peppercress (Lepidium virginicum)
(Lepidium oxytrichum)
(Lepidium perfoliatum)

Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
Common Stock (Matthiola incana)
Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala)
Muskweed (Myagrum perfoliatum) is not in WA.
Ball mustard (Neslia paniculata)

Cultivated Radish (Raphanus sativus).
Sea Radish (Raphanus maritimus).

Turnip Weed (Rapistrum rugosum)
Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum)
White Mustard (Sinapis alba) has white seed.
Charlock (Sinapis arvensis)

Sisymbrium altissimum is not in WA.
Smooth Mustard (Sisymbrium erysimoides)
London Rocket (Sisymbrium irio)
Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale)
Indian Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium orientale)0
Sisymbrium runcinatum
African Turnip Weed (Sisymbrium thellungii) is not in WA.

Succowia balearica is in Kings Park in Perth.

Plants of similar appearance:

Field Cress is generally similar in appearance to Hoary Cress (Lepidium draba was Cardaria draba) but can be distinguished from it in the mature stage by the lack of a perennial spreading root system. In Field Cress the inflorescence is elongated, frequently carrying flowers towards the top and seed at the bottom, while in Hoary Cress the inflorescence tends to be umbrella shaped and broad and spreading. The fruits are distinctive. The seedlings are very similar and not readily separated. In Field Cress the cotyledon is more rounded and the leaf is only bluntly pointed or rounded at the tip and without lobes, while in Hoary Cress the first leaves tend to be pointed and have small but distinct lobes.
There are 27 native species of Lepidium.
The native Brassicaceae species usually have short, broad and smooth pods.


Auld, B.A. and Medd R.W. (1992). Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P134.

Harden, Gwen J. (1991). Flora of NSW. (Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney). Volume 1. P468. Diagram.

Hyde-Wyatt, B.H. and Morris, D.I. (1975). Tasmanian weed handbook. (Tasmanian Department of Agriculture, Hobart, Tasmania). p49.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #735.3.


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