Crucifer plants -Treacle Mustard. Erysimum cheiranthoides. Close up of the flowers below.

Courtesy of TeunSpaans.  CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

 Gewone steenraket bloemen.jpg



In this series we review the plants known as Crucifers {the four petals form a cross when open.} They are members of the brassica family and feature some of our best known vegetables such as turnip, mustards, cabbage and radish. They also have representatives in cultivation such as Stock, Wallflower and Candytuft.

Indeed the subject under review , the Treacle Mustard is a close relative of the Wallflower.

Description and habitat

This annual herbaceous plant is like many other members of the mustard group. It produces erect stems from 50-100 cm tall rarely 150 cm. The foliage is lanceolate or elliptical,  2-11 cm long and 0-5.1 cm broad, they are either entire or have coarsely toothed margins they are arranged alternately the stem leaves almost stalkless.  They have stellate hairs. The flowers are bright yellow  5-12 mm in diameter produced in a cluster at the tips of the stems. They flower from June until August. They are encountered in cereal and hay fields and other crops such as potatoes, dry meadows, besides roads and railway lines and in gardens or on waste ground.  they are rare in the west and north. The fruit is a slender cylindrical capsule 1-3 cm long some times a little longer, they contain several small brown seeds.

Background and a little history of the Treacle Mustard.

Since agricultural activity began this species has been regarded as being a nuisance weed through out its distribution in Europe. It can easily produce a lot of seeds within a short life cycle. They seedlings are capable of adapting to new conditions. In Finland there are two subspecies Ssp cheiranthoides and Ssp altum. The latter is on average taller and heavier than the norm and flowers less it also has a more northerly distribution.

Treacle mustard, growing in situ 

Courtesy of Christian Fischer CC BY-SA 3.0 license.ErysimumCheiranthoides2.jpg

Historical medicinal uses.

In herbal medicine it is the seeds that are used they were mixed with treacle and given to children  with 'robust' constitutions to rid them of worms, Hence its alternative name of Treacle wormseed. They work quickly on stools and if given in to large a quantity by vomiting as well. It was therefore used with discretion but it is claimed it did an admirable job. it was regarded as better than many of the mercurial preparations which were commonly given in the country for the purpose of ridding worms from the body often with very worrying side affects, causing illness.

It was also given in the treatment of jaundice and rheumatic pain.  However, it is not a plant  to be used in homemade preparations  The above information is for historical interest only and not meant as a guide to self medication..

Reuse of images.

The images on this page may be reused. However, the name of the relevant author must be attributed along with any accompanying license.

The foliage and seed pods of Treacle Mustard.

Courtesy of Christian Fischer CC BY - SA 3.0 LicenseErysimumCheiranthoides.jpg