What a nice surprise to see Dr. Damon Waitt on TV last night! Dr. Waitt is the Senior Director and Botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
He was talking about Bastard Cabbage (Rapistrum rugosum), also known as Mediterranean Mustard. It’s a terrible invasive species that is overrunning Texas wildflowers, especially our beloved Texas Bluebonnets.
I first learned about Bastard Cabbage from him last fall in my video interview with him at the 2011 Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Conference. He said that this plant was the invasive species that really worried him.
Seeing Dr. Waitt interviewed by Mr. Jim Swift on KXAN reminded me of that plant, and I had to go out today to learn more about it.
Invasive Species Create Terrible Monocultures
Bastard Cabbage crowds out the wonderful Texas bluebonnets and creates a terrible monoculture. It towers over the bluebonnets, and the rosette at the base of the plant and long tap root steal resources that could have gone to the native Texas wildflowers.
They have a long stem and small yellow flowers. When I saw it when I was younger, I thought it was a native Texas wildflower.
Fight Back Against this Invasive Plant
In the KXAN article, Dr. Waitt said that with enough seed, Indian Blanket wildflowers might be able to compete with this invasive plant, but that’s a hard fight to win.
Dr. Waitt said it’s best to hand pull Bastard Cabbage. I did my part pulling some up on highway 360 in Austin, and I took some down with my moves from the Invasive Hunter Academy. I also took a plant sample for my herbarium.
He said that on a 10 point worry scale, he’s at a 9.5. If Dr. Waitt’s worried about our Texas Bluebonnets, we should all be worried too!
Thanks, Dr. Waitt, and the Texas Invasives website for teaching me about this terrible invasive!
Update: Video: See Native Plant Avengers – Ecosystem’s Mightiest Heroes – battle Bastard Cabbage
Update: Bastard Cabbage Takes Over Texas Wildflowers
One response to “Bastard Cabbage Fouls Texas Bluebonnets”
It might be possible to control Mediterranean Mustard by utilzing a brush/wipe-on herbicide control technique with something akin to a long paint brush absorbant roller type tube that can hold a glyphosphate type herbicide for total vegetation control that is run across the field tractor-drawn at a certain height to brush onto the taller Mediterranean Mustard, yet avoid the other shorter native wildflowers. With the control material being absorbed onto the offending plant, it will then translocate thruout the plants body and kill the current growth off. Obviously several repeated applications will have to be performed to catch the succeding seed crop, but the wipe-on technique would be less environmentally damaging to the desired plants as opposed to a spray-on technique, and utilize far less material for control purposes.