Tumble Mustard Identification – Sisymbrium altissimum

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This post is part of our “100 Plants and Mushrooms” series. Here, you’ll see the plant’s main parts – its leaves, flowers, fruits, and more – all with key identification features.

If you’ve ever noticed a tall, chaotic-looking plant with pale yellow flowers tumbling about, you may have come across the Tumble Mustard. Known scientifically as Sisymbrium altissimum, this plant belongs to the Mustard family, or Brassicaceae family.

Before we dive deep into the identifying details, you might be interested to know it’s also popularly called the Jim Hill Mustard. This mustard plant hails originally from Europe but has made its presence known far and wide. Though it might look beautiful to some, it’s generally considered a weedy plant.

Tumble Mustard: Key Parts in Photos

Where to find it

Tumble Mustard loves sunlit areas, but it doesn’t mind a bit of shade. One common thing about its habitat is disturbed soil. You’d often find them thriving beside roads, in fields, or waste areas. Any place where the ground has been turned over or messed with is an ideal spot for these plants to grow. These plants can get pretty tall, growing up to a whopping 40 inches!

How to identify Tumble Mustard

The leaves are deeply lobed, which means they have significant gaps or segments. Sometimes, these lobes are so deep that the leaves might look like they’re made up of multiple smaller leaves, but they aren’t. The leaves closest to the ground (basal leaves) and those on the lower stem are a bit hairy at the edges and might have teeth-like structures or small lobes on the sides. Move up the plant, and the leaf structure gets a bit different. The lobes in these upper leaves get longer, narrower, and the leaves appear more finely divided. Here, the leaves and stems lose their hairy touch.

The flowers can give you a good hint about its identity. At the end of its many branching stems, you’ll spot small clusters of flowers. As the plant gets older, these clusters start spreading out more. Each flower shines in creamy white to light yellow hues. In the flower’s center, you’ll find six greenish stamens. The fruit a slender pod, up to 4 inches long, standing out almost straight from its stem. At the pod’s tip, there’s a little brown part, which is called the style. This style is essential for the plant’s reproduction.

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