Category Archives: KXAN

The Unstoppable, Invasive Bastard Cabbage

Commander Ben gives Bastard Cabbage the business

There has been A LOT of interest in Bastard Cabbage (Rapistrum rugosum) lately.

If you travel along the roads in Central Texas and you don’t know about invasive species, you might think that the Bastard Cabbage is a nice, big wildflower on the roadsides. It’s not. It’s a terrible invasive plant that causes havoc by overrunning and towering over all the Texas wildflowers. The seedlings of the native plants don’t get light, and they die or can’t sprout and the Bastard Cabbage takes over, creating a monoculture.

Once you know what the plant looks like, you’ll see it everywhere. Instead of beautiful reds, blues, and other colors from our diverse native wildflowers, you’ll just see a suffocating blanket of yellow mustard colored flowers.

Is it unstoppable?

Dr. Damon Waitt, Senior Director and Botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, had a popular interview with Mr. Jim Swift on KXAN TV last month, and during the interview, Dr. Waitt said that he was very worried that it would take over Texas roadsides and fields and overwhelm the native species.

His interview inspired me to learn more about this terrible invasive, and I wrote a blog post about it, “Bastard Cabbage Fouls Texas Bluebonnets“. I’m amazed and happy to see the heavy web traffic that I’ve received from this post. It’s great that everyone wants to learn more about this invasive plant!

Learn more about Texas invasives with the iWire newsletter

The March issue of the iWire newsletter also talks about this invasive plant with their “Hello Bastard Cabbage. Goodbye Bluebonnets.” article. You can learn what you can do to help get rid of Bastard Cabbage too.

And thank you iWire for talking about my “Invasive Hunter Academy” for Kids’ Day during National Invasive Species Awareness Week in Washington D.C. in your March 2012 and February 2012 issues!

The February issue also introduces, Ms. Jessica Strickland, the new the Invasive Species Program Coordinator at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I was happy to meet her over Spring break. She was very nice and welcoming to me, but the invasive species better watch out!

If you don’t already get iWire, I encourage you to subscribe to this monthly e-newsletter to learn the latest news about invasive plants and pests in Texas each month.

Commander Ben…signing off

Update: See Native Plant Avengers – Ecosystem’s Mightiest Heroes – battle Bastard Cabbage

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Filed under Bastard Cabbage, Damon Waitt, Invasive Hunter Academy, iWire Texas Invasives Newsletter, Jessica Strickland, KXAN, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Texas Invasives

Bastard Cabbage Fouls Texas Bluebonnets

Commander Ben beseiged by Bastard Cabbage

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.

Bastard Cabbage overruns Texas Bluebonnets along highway 360 in Austin, Texas

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!

Your friend,
Commander Ben

Update: Video: See Native Plant Avengers – Ecosystem’s Mightiest Heroes – battle Bastard Cabbage

Update: Bastard Cabbage Takes Over Texas Wildflowers

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Filed under 2011 Texas Invasive Plant Conference, Bastard Cabbage, Damon Waitt, Herbarium, Invasive Hunter Academy, Jim Swift, KXAN, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Texas Bluebonnets, Texas Invasives