Lepidium latifolium

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaCruciferaeLepidiumLepidium latifolium


A rhizomatous perennial herb native on creek-sides, ditches, sea-walls, open brackish grassland and the upper fringes of estuarine saltmarshes. It is also naturalised in disturbed areas such as waste ground, dockland, railways and roadsides. Lowland.



World Distribution

Eurosiberian Southern-temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.

Broad Habitats

Neutral grassland (includes coarse Arrhenatherum grassland)

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 8

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 3

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4.1

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.6

Annual Precipitation (mm): 629

Height (cm): 120

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Rhizome far-creeping

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 67

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 4

Atlas Change Index: 1.23

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Lepidium latifolium L.


Status: scarce



The habitats of this plant are creeksides, ditches and brackish marshland in the upper reaches of estuaries; and less frequently on sea walls, in saltmarshes and on damp sand. Inland, it may become a persistent weed of bare waste places, in gravel pits, on railway banks and by canals, sometimes as a relic of past cultivation.

This is a patch-forming stoloniferous perennial, flowering from June to September. It has probably dispersed inland from native coastal sites as portions of rootstock in gravels and other ballast.

This plant was once used as a ‘hot’ flavouring but has been long since replaced by horse-radish and pepper. Because of this it is difficult to assess its true native range. It would appear to be maintaining its numbers in its East Anglian heartland, and is unquestionably increasing in its inland ruderal habitats. 

L. latifolium is found throughout Europe to c. 60 °N, in north Africa and south-west Asia. It is known to have been introduced in North America and Australasia.



F. J. Rumsey

Atlas text references

Atlas (38a)
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Jalas & Suominen (1996)
Rich TCG
1991.  Crucifers of Great Britain and Ireland. Botanical Society of the British Isles Handbook no. 6.
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.