With its thick outcropping of leafy green branches topped with small yellow flowers, an invasive weed commonly called bastard cabbage is blotting out large swaths of wildflowers, including the beloved bluebonnets, in some areas across Texas.
“It turns out that the good weather conditions that give us good wildflower seasons also favor the bastard cabbage,” said Damon Waitt, senior director and botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
“I’ve seen areas that used to be bluebonnet hillsides along roadways that are now bastard cabbage hillsides,” he said.
Waitt said it’s not known exactly when or where or how the invasive weed with the scientific name of Rapistrum rugosum got introduced to Texas, but it may have happened when the seed of the weed native to the Mediterranean area got mixed in with grass seeds.
He said bastard cabbage’s proliferation in Texas has gotten worse in recent years. He said bastard cabbage — which though part of the mustard family resembles broccoli or cabbage plants because of the flowers at its tips — is growing everywhere this year from parks to front lawns, but is especially prevalent along the state’s major roadways.