Lepidium perfoliatum (clasping pepperweed)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Air Temperature
- Soil Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Lepidium perfoliatum
Preferred Common Name
- clasping pepperweed
Other Scientific Names
- Alyssum heterophyllum Ruiz & Pav. ex DC.
- Crucifera diversifolia E.H.L.Krause
- Nasturtium perfoliatum (L.) Besser
International Common Names
- English: clasping leaved pepper-grass; clasping pepper-grass; clasping pepperweed; clasping pepperwort; claspingleaf pepperweed; klamath pepper grass; perfoliate pepperwort; shield cress; shield peppergrass
Local Common Names
- Argentina: mastuerzo
- China: bao jing du xing cai
- Czech Republic: rericha prorostlá
- Finland: sepiväkrassi
- France: passerage perfoliée; tabouret perfolié
- Germany: durchwachsenblättrige kresse; durchwachsene kresse
- Latvia: skraujlapu cietkersa
- Netherlands: doorgroeide kruidkers
- Sweden: hjulkrassing
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Capparidales
- Family: Brassicaceae
- Genus: Lepidium
- Species: Lepidium perfoliatum
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
Lepidium is a genus of plants in the mustard family (Brassicaceae). This genus comprises 234 APG-III accepted and 98 unresolved species (The PlantList, 2013). Lepidium taxa are of worldwide distribution (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2016). This genus owes its name to the Greek word for scale, lepis, alluding to the shape of the fruit (Johson and Smith, 1972).
DescriptionTop of page
The following description has been adapted from the Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2016).
Forbs of 10-40 cm in height. Rootstocks slender, taproot. Stem erect, woody, usually simple near the base and branched above, sparsely pubescent with simple setose hairs. Leaves simple, prominently dimorphic, basal leaves in rosulate, lanceolate in outline, about 2-12 x 0.5-4 cm across, margins deeply dissected into bipinnate narrow linear lobes, petiole about 1-3 cm long, lower cauline leaves somewhat similar but smaller, petiolate, middle and upper cauline leaves, suborbicular-ovate to cordate, with wing-like auricles on both sides, about 1.5-4 x 0.8-2.5 cm across, base amplexicaul or cordate not auriculate, margins entire, apex subobtuse, petiole sessile. Inflorescence racemes, terminal and axillary, many flowered, elongated in fruit, up to 10 cm long in fruit, ebracteate. Flowers bisexual, yellow, pale yellow, pedicel filiform, erect, divaricate, slender, terete, ascending, glabrous, about 3-8 mm long, sepals 4, ovate-oblong, caducous, usually deciduous, margins white, lateral pair base not saccate, apex obtuse, pubescent, about 0.8-1 mm long, petals 4, spathulate-obovate, base narrowed, margins entire, apex rounded, about 1.5-1.8 x 0.2-0.5 mm across, claw distinct about 1 mm long. Stamens 6, filaments not dilated near the base, about 0.6-0.7 mm long, anthers ovate about 0.1-0.2 mm long. Ovary superior, sessile, bicarpellary, ovules 2. Fruit silicula, dehiscent, broadly ovate to orbicular to rhombic, angustiseptate, about 3-4.5 x 3-4 mm across, compressed, keeled or rounded at the back, apex notched and narrowly winged, style about 0.1-0.4 mm long, stigma included with the apical notch, almost equal or slightly exserted. Seeds reddish brown, slightly compressed or flattened, oblong-ovoid, winged, about 1.5-1.75 x 1 mm across, smooth minutely reticulate, mucilaginous when exposed to water.
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
L. perforatum is a native of Eurasia, but has been introduced and become naturalized in desert and steppe habitats around the world. It is found in Australia, west and south Europe, the temperate regions of the Far East, and South and North America. In North America, it grows from Alaska south to California, throughout western Canada, east in the USA to Ohio, and south to Kansas. This species is most common in the northern Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Feb 2022
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|China||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|India||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Present||Native|
|Russia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Eastern Siberia||Present||Native||Buryatia, Altay, Krasnoyarsk|
|-Southern Russia||Present||Native||Dagestan, Ciscaucasia|
|United Kingdom||Present||Introduced||Not established|
|Canada||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|United States||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Australia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-New South Wales||Present||Introduced|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
L. perfoliatum was introduced into cultivation in Britain by 1640 and was first recorded from the wild in 1888 (Rich, 1991). In the past, this species was more frequent, but has now become extremely rare. It has however persisted at Northey Island (south Essex) since 1976 (Rich, 1991). Although there is no explicit record of an intentional introduction, L. perfoliatum was listed as a ballast species and first reported growing spontaneously within 100 miles of New York city in 1888 (Poggenburg et al., 1888).
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
There is a risk of further accidental introductions of L. perforatum through produce contamination.
HabitatTop of page
This is a disturbance species common of wasteland, fallows, sinks (dry lakes), open deserts, roadsides, dry sandy slopes, and other ruderal places (Encyclopedia of Life, 2016), occasionally occurring in wetlands (Calflora, 2016). It is found from sea level up to 2500 m (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2016).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Wetlands||Secondary/tolerated habitat|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Scrub / shrublands||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Deserts||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Arid regions||Present, no further details|
|Littoral||Coastal areas||Present, no further details|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Aminidehagui et al. (2006) noted that L. perfoliatum has allelopathic effects on the roots of lettuce (Lactuca sativa).
Biology and EcologyTop of page
L. perfoliatum has a chromosome number of 2n = 16 (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2016).
Lepidium species flowers are complete, bisexual, i.e., with functional male (androecium) and female (gynoecium) parts, including stamens, carpels and ovary. Pollination is entomophilous (by insects), or by cleistogamy (by self) or allogamy (by cross pollination) (India Biodiversity Portal, 2016).
This is a short-lived species that depends mainly on sexual reproduction, with a life cycle of approximately 60 days (Tang et al., 2010). The vegetative organs of L. perfoliatum show limited capacity to store water and withstand drought (Zhuang and Tian, 1990). According to Tang et al. (2010), this species has a young reproductive age, and its long reproductive period takes three fourths of life cycle. L. perfoliatum produces large numbers of small, light and mucilaginous seeds. Absorbing water rapidly, mucilaginous seed coat has key ecological influence to assure the germinating for its adhesion to the soil crust for some desert plants (Tang et al., 2010).
Seed dispersal of L. perfoliatum starts when daily temperatures reach above 25-30°C. After shedding, seeds have to experience natural hot treatment, after which most of the seeds are released from dormancy but only germinate if water is available and temperatures adequate (Tang et al., 2010). Choudhuri (1968) found that seeds of L. perfoliatum from saline habitats were more tolerant of salinity than those from non-saline habitats, indicating an ecotypic specialization in this species.
Physiology and Phelology
L. perfoliatum is a short-lived annual or biennial herb (USDA-ARS, 2016).
This species blossoms in spring (March to June) (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2016), and bears fruit between May and July (Encyclopaedia of Life, 2016).
It may be abundant some years and extremely sparse in others (Pyke, 1994).
Seeds of L. perfoliatum show irregular germination (Young et al, 1970). As a result of this characteristic, it can become a large community (Abaturov and Nukhimovskaya, 2013), or be rare (Young et al., 1970).
In California, L. perfoliatum has been reported to benefit from the association with the Western White butterfly (Pontia occidentalis) (Calflora, 2016). In its native range, this species forms ephemeral associations with other plant species (Titlyanova and Nurmedov, 1986; Eisenman et al., 2012).
This species requires exposure to full sun and grows well on warm, moist to wet, moderately acidic to sligtly alkaline soils. It thrives in nitrogen-rich soils (NDFF, 2016). In the subtropics this species is adapted to altitudes between 1500-2500 m.
ClimateTop of page
|BS - Steppe climate||Preferred||> 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation|
|BW - Desert climate||Preferred||< 430mm annual precipitation|
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Preferred||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
|Ds - Continental climate with dry summer||Preferred||Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)|
|Dw - Continental climate with dry winter||Preferred||Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||34|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||-9|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||4||11||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||254||1651||mm; lower/upper limits|
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Special soil tolerances
Natural enemiesTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
According to the India Biodiversity Portal (2016), Lepidium species are susceptible to various insect pests, virus, mildews and moulds. L. perfoliatum is reportedly grazed in small quantities by saiga antelopes (Saiga tatarica tatarica) (Dieterich and Sarsenova, 2011).
It is a major host species of the geen peach aphid (Myzus persicae) (Tamaki and Olsen, 1979) and affected by the beet leafhopper (Circulifer tenellus).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Seeds may be dispersed by autochory (self-dispersal) or anemochory (wind dispersal) (India Biodiversity Portal, 2016).
Young and Evans (1973) suggested that mucilaginous seeds are of great ecological importance for L. perfoliatum as they become attached to potential vectors. Dispersal may be facilitated through birds or animals (zoochory) or by humans (anthropochory).
According to USDA-ARS (2016), this species is a potential seed contaminant. In the Netherlands, it has been spread with bird feed and as contaminant in corn and wool. The former finds were particularly located in ports and landing sites in riverine areas. Subsequent deposits are most likely from spilled bird feed. The sharp decline will undoubtedly be due to the clearly changing way of grain supply (NDFF, 2016).
Pathway CausesTop of page
|Harvesting fur, wool or hair||Has been accidentally spread as contaminant in wool||Yes||NDFF (2016)|
|Hitchhiker||Potential seed contaminant. Has been accidentally spread with bird feed and as contaminant in grain||Yes||Yes||NDFF (2016); USDA-ARS (2016)|
|Research||L. perfoliatum seed gum has potential to be used as a plant hydrocolloid||Yes||Hesarinejad et al. (2014)|
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Economic/livelihood||Positive and negative|
Economic ImpactTop of page
L. perfoliatum has been reported as a weed in wheat fields in Quetta, Pakistan (Hussain and Dasti, 1985). In addition to its potential harm to lettuce (Lactuca sativa) (Aminidehaghi et al., 2006), the presence of this species near orchards poses a serious threat to food trees and crops, as it is a major host species of the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) (Tamaki and Olsen, 1979).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Habitats
Given its considerable aboveground biomass production (Abaturov and Nukhimovskaya, 2013), it is likely that when dried, this species increases the risk of wildfires.
Impact on Biodiversity
This species is a problematic weed in arable lands of eastern Azerbaijan and Iran (Ganepour et al., 2014). It has been reported as an invasive weed in the northern Rocky Mountains, USA (Forcella, 1992) and some North American national parks: Badlands National Park (South Dakota), Death Valley National Park (California), Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota) and Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming) (IPA, 2016).
In overabundance, this species can compete with other plants and is a potentially lethal forage for wildlife, particularly, ungulates. In 2010, warm weather and regular precipitation provided the ideal conditions for L. perfoliatum to become widespread in the north west of West Kazakhstan province north-east and south-east of Borsy. As a result of its availability and subsequent grazing, about 12,000 saiga antelopes (Saiga tatarica tatarica) died of extreme bloating (Dieterich and Sarsenova, 2011).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Invasive in its native range
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Is a habitat generalist
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Tolerant of shade
- Long lived
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Modification of fire regime
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - shading
- Competition - smothering
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
Seyedi et al. (2014) have investigated the microstructural, physical, mechanical and thermal properties of a novel biodegradable film based on Lepidium perfoliatum seed gum (LPSG). These authors found that LPSG could be a promising carbohydrate for food packaging that has a great potential to replace some of the plant hydrocolloids used currently in the food industry.
Moreover, research by Lorestani et al. (2013) showed that this species has a considerable potential for phytoremediation of soils contaminated with heavy metals.
In China, this species is sometimes eaten as a vegetable or used medicinally as an antiscorbutic (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016). In Central Asia, a decoction of L. perfoliatum leaves is used in the treatment of headaches and seeds are an ingredient in a treatment for fatigue (Eisenman et al., 2012).
L. perforatum has been found to contribute considerable amounts of above ground biomass within a deserted steppe pasture in the northern Caspian Depression (Abaturov and Nukhimovskaya, 2013).
Uses ListTop of page
Human food and beverage
- Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
L. perfoliatum and Lepidium campestre are the only species of this genus with lobed, clasping leaves. Both species are distinguishable by the latter’s dense indument (SEINet, 2016).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Seed germination in L. perfoliatum is irregular after overwintering in the field, making weed control difficult (Young et al, 1970).
Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures
Generally, prescribed burning is ineffective, as fire creates conditions favourable to invasion (DiTomaso et al., 2013).
According to DiTomaso et al. (2013), grazing offers moderate control of L. perfoliatum. Likewise, mowing and cutting should be done shortly before flowering and near ground level (DiTomaso et al., 2013). Ganepour et al. (2014) suggest shallow ploghing to bury this species’ seeds below 4 cm in the soil as an effective method to reduce or control the emergence and population of L. perfoliatum.
DiTomaso et al. (2013) suggests the following herbicides as offering excellent control for L. perfoliatum: sulfometuron, rimsulfuron, metsulfuron, imazapyr, imazapic, hexazinone, glyphosate, dicamba, chlorshulfuron, with 2-4 D; and sulfosulfuron offering good control. Aminopyralid, clopyralid, picloram, and praquat, on the other hand, are poor control agents (DiTomaso et al., 2013).
ReferencesTop of page
Abaturov BD, Nukhimovskaya YD, 2013. Quantitative Assessment of Aboveground Plant Production and Its Components in Steppe Pasture. Arid Ecosystems, 3(4):198-204.
Aminidehaghi M, Rezaeinodehi A, Khangholi S, 2006. Allelopathic potential of Alliaria petiolata and Lepidium perfoliatum, two weeds of the Cruciferae family. Journal of Plant Diseases and Protection, Special Issue XX: 455-462. Journal of Plant Diseases and Protection, Special Issue XX:455-462.
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ContributorsTop of page
02/03/16 Original text by:
Diana Quiroz, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Netherlands
Distribution MapsTop of page
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