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Brassica rapa sketchbook

Brassica rapa sketchbook

Brassicaceae (previously called Crucifers) are fairly easily recognised as a family because of there 4 free cross shaped petals, 4 free sepals and often 6 stamens. However its a different matter when trying to identify to species level as most of the keys rely heavily on the  characteristics of their fruit. Unfortunately at this time of year the plants may have flowers but no fruit. Luckily this plant has both and keys out very well using Rose’s Wildflower Key as Turnip Brassica rapa . The fruit are much longer than wide (siliqua) and have a distinctive beak. In flower the flowers overtop the buds and are clustered together, unlike Rape, Brassica napus (which also has clasping stem leaves) but the buds overtop the flowers. Apparently Cabbage B oleracea has larger petals and an elongated inflorescence so that the buds distinctly over top the flowers.

Barbaea species at roadside

Barbarea species at roadside

This plant however lacks fruit and is much more difficult to identify at the moment. However the vegetative key of Poland and Clement provided  clues that this is probably one of the Barbarea genus. The lower leaves are conspicuously long stalked and either pinnate or deeply pinnately lobed while the upper ones are not stalked at all and markedly lobed.

Barbarea sketchbook entry

Barbarea sketchbook entry; note the long stalked basal leaf on the left with lateral lobes getting larger to apex. The upper leaf/bract on the right is stalkless and the lobes are obviously joined.

Without the fruit I am reluctant to say what species it is but I am guessing it is either B verna or B intermedia.

Barbarea at base of retaining wall with long siliqua

Barbarea at base of retaining wall with long siliqua

Not far away from the last Barbarea I came across this one. Ironically this chap lacks any flowers but has lots of siliqua although there are some buds in the leaf axils. This I think is another member of the same family, American Winter cress Barbarea verna.

Barbarea verna, has more side leaflet lobes than B intermedia. Hairs on lower edges of leaf auricles

Both Stace(p255) and Streeter(p188) have useful keys for the Barbarea genus