Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bad flower. Very bad.

The lovely yellow flower decorating the roadsides this spring has been getting a lot of press recently.

“It’s so pretty,” you might say.  What’s not to like about masses of 3-foot tall plants, gently waving little yellow blooms all along the roadside?

Turns out this flower embodies the old saying:  “Beauty is only skin deep.” Or in this case, bloom deep. And it has a name to match its unpleasant nature: bastard cabbage (Rapistrum rugosum).

My friends, this invasive species is CROWDING OUT BLUEBONNETS (and other native plants).That will not do.

According to, bastard cabbage is native to southern Europe, northern Africa and western Asia.  It spreads here through grass seed mixes and mulches.

Once here, it settles right in. Its seeds germinate early in the fall, and then form a “blanket of leafy rosettes,” which keeps sunlight from reaching seedlings of other natives, including bluebonnets. A monoculture can develop. The site says these grow 1 to 5 feet tall, bloom spring into summer, and put down  “robust” taproots.

According to Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, bastard cabbage is found in multiple states, but is invasive only in Texas.

We noticed masses of yellow when returning from the coast a few weeks ago, and I saw lots near Blanco this week. In fact, fellow blogger Sheryl Smith Rogers wrote last week about attacking the bastard cabbage at Blanco State Park.

Field outside of Blanco.
But is it here? In Hays County?  YES!

We have seen it along FM 150 between Wimberley and Kyle.  There are a few isolated plants toward Wimberley and in my neighborhood; it is much thicker toward the east.

What can we do, what can we do? According to Texas Invasives, the best method of eradication is to yank the puppies up, and get those taproots. That should be easy. Not. 

The Wildflower Research Center is working on an organic way of dealing with this problem. Heavily seeded Indian blanket might be able to compete with the bastard cabbage, according to a KXAN Austin news report.

My husband has been a bastard cabbage warrior in his walks this week, yanking it up when he sees it along his path. Join him! If you see it on or near your property, show no mercy.

And if you want, mutter or shout, “Take that, you bastard cabbage!”

Favorite spot in the garden:

My first favorite:  At the corner of my porch, the anacacho orchid tree (Bauhinia lunarioides) is simply stunning, covered in white blooms, with bees buzzing busily all around.  This is a very good little tree for Hays County. Just gouge out a hole in a rock somewhere, and stick it in. You will be rewarded.

Another favorite place is all the open, rocky areas on our property, where the stork’s bills (Erodium texanum) are having a banner year. Its name refers to the look of its seed pods. These have another charming name:  “fillaree.” Like buttercups, these open late in the day, and close in the morning.


  1. I started noticing after I read about this, and yes, it's really widespread in some areas I pass. Haven't noticed it on my property yet, but GO DAN!

    1. We saw a big patch in the 'hood on Sunday - on uninhabited private property.

  2. I saw lots of these on the drive to Dallas the other day. I wondered what it was, but thought it was pretty. So sorry to hear about its bad side! I will certainly pull these up if I see any on my property! Thanks for the info.

    1. I thought the same, Holley - now I'm horrified when I see it thick and lush!

  3. I've noticed more and more of this Bastard...Cabbage.
    Not sure what we can do on a large scale. It's very heavy along the 130 tollway, too. Acres and acres of it.

    It's a shame when bad things invade.

    I'll pull it up wherever I can. I haven't seen any around our place. Maybe deer like it.

  4. I am not familiar with this invasive plant. It must be in other areas. We have some of our own. The field of stork's bills is lovely.

  5. Good job spreading the word on that rude plant. Knowledge is power.