ONH

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    1 - Field Mustard, Brassica campestris.

    05/10/2008 Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, Washington

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    2 - Field Mustard flowers.

    02/08/2007 Mouth of the Elwha River, Port Angeles, Washington

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    3 - Field Mustard flowers.

    02/08/2007 Mouth of the Elwha River, Port Angeles, Washington

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    4 - Field Mustard.

    02/08/2007 Mouth of the Elwha River, Port Angeles, Washington

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    5 - Field Mustard blooming in February.

    02/26/2016 Ediz Hook, Port Angeles, Washington

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    6 - Field Mustard upper leaf.

    01/30/2007 Mouth of the Elwha River, Port Angeles, Washington

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    7 - Field Mustard basal leaf.

    02/08/2007 Mouth of the Elwha River, Port Angeles, Washington

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    8 - Honey Bee on Field Mustard.

    05/16/2009 Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, Washington

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    9 - Volucella , a Bumble Bee Mimic syrphid fly, on Field Mustard.

    05/16/2009 Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, Washington

A non-native annual, Field Mustard, Brassica campestris (also called Rape [from the Latin for turnip], Brassica rapa), grows all along the northwest coast of the United States and Canada, frequenting low-elevation disturbed sites. (Varieties grow all over the United States.)

I’ve seen plants blooming in late January but they are much larger and more exuberant blooming in May.

Mustards are members of the family Cruciferae. The four-petaled flowers are diagnostic of the family. The lower leaves of Field Mustard are long and somewhat lyre-shaped, while upper leaves wrap around the stem at their bases. Mustard flowers attract many pollinators (slides 8 and 9).

Pojar and Mackinnon write, in Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, that Field Mustard was cooked and eaten by northwest tribes, including the Stl’atl’imx. Cultivated plants such as turnip, rapes, mustards and Chinese cabbages all belong to the same species, which was domesticated as far back as 1500.