Montana Peppergrass
Lepidium Montanum Nutt.

Annual/Biennial growing to 2 to 3 feet. It is densely flowered. It is in flower from May to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs). The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil.

Food Uses:  Leaves - raw or cooked. A hot cress-like flavour, they are used in spring and early summer, the young leaves are best. Immature seedpods have a hot pungent taste, they are used as a flavouring.  The seed may be  used as a mustard-like flavouring. The pungency of mustard develops when cold water is added to the ground-up seed - an enzyme (myrosin) acts on a glycoside (sinigrin) to produce a sulpher compound. The reaction takes 10 - 15 minutes. Mixing with hot water or vinegar, or adding salt, inhibits the enzyme and produces a mildly-pungent but bitter mustard.

Medical Uses:  The leaves have been chewed in the treatment of headaches. An infusion of the plant has been used in the treatment of kidney problems. It has also been used as a dietary aid for a person trying to lose weight.

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