Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Virginia Pepperweed: Lepidium virginicum

Weed Description:  An annual weed that develops as a basal rosette initially, eventually producing flowering stems that have a bottle-brush appearance.  Virginia pepperweed is a weed of agronomic, vegetable, orchard, and nursery crops, and is distributed throughout the United States.
Seedlings:   Cotyledons are hairless, oval and occur on long petioles.  Plants initially develop a basal rosette of leaves.

pepperweed3-21.jpg (196251 bytes) Leaves:  Rosette leaves are without hairs, are oval in outline, and are lobed along both sides of the leaf.   Rosette leaves do not usually persist once flowering stems are produced.   Leaves that occur along the flowering stem are lanceolate or linear in outline and do not have petioles (sessile).
Stems:  Erect, branched, reaching 20 inches in height.

Roots:   Taproot.

Flowers: Flowers are produced at the ends of the stems in a dense inflorescence that gives a 'bottle-brush' appearance.  Individual flowers are relatively inconspicuous and no more than 1 mm long.  Individual flowers consist of 4 white or greenish white petals.

pepper2-6c.jpg (57251 bytes) Fruit:  A rounded silicle that is approximately 4 mm wide and has a small notch at the apex.  The fruit are flattened and also have a winged structure around the exterior.
Identifying Characteristics:   The bottle-brush appearance of mature plants and rosette leaves that are lobed are both characteristics that help in the identification of Virginia pepperweed.  Field Pepperweed (Lepidium campestre) is similar in appearance and growth habit, however this weed has leaves that clasp the flowering stem and has fruit that are generally larger and more robust than those of Virginia pepperweed.

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