Plant A Day – Spring Draba

Spring Draba Draba verna

Spring Draba
Draba verna

Spring Draba is a small, unassuming plant that can be very common in farm fields in the early and mid spring.  Most people would never notice it because it is small, the flowers are small and white and barely noticeable, and most folks don’t go looking for spring wildflowers in farm fields in the spring.  They get plopped in the category of “weeds”.

It is originally from Europe, although some researchers believe that it may also be native to western United States.  I wonder how they determine if a plant is native or not?  It’s not as easy as you might think.

For such a small, unassuming, non-native plant, it has a lot of common names, including Spring Whitlow Grass, Spring Whitlow Mustard, Shadflower, Nailwort, Early Witlow Grass, and Vernal Whitlow Grass.  Given all of these names, it must have been a useful plant to early settlers of America, although I don’t know how.  It is edible, although said to be bitter.  Perhaps an early settler named Whitlow used it to spice up his meals.

Note the four deeply cleft petals

Note the four deeply cleft petals

The pod shape is often a characteristic feature of the various Mustard plants

The pod shape is often a characteristic feature of the various Mustard plants

A small basal rosette are the only leaves it has

A small basal rosette are the only leaves it has

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