Wintercress Uses: What To Do With Wintercress Plants

Bowl Of Wintercress Plants
(Image credit: Cheryl)

Wintercress plants may invade wooded areas near you in early spring. It is one of the earliest growing plants. If there is a wooded spot in your yard, you may find them growing there. You might consider it just a weed and get rid of it early, only to find more returning. There’s so much more to wintercress than weeds – keep reading to learn about eating wintercress greens.

What to Do with Wintercress

Of course, you don’t want the spreading plant invading your landscape, but before you get rid of it, consider its uses. The wintercress genus (Barbarea) includes 20 different types and, according to wintercress information, these belong to the mustard family and considered a wild herb.

Young leaves on 6 inch (15 cm.) wintercress plants in early spring are edible and best for adding to salads in limited amounts. You may also sauté with bacon as you would spinach. Other edible wintercress uses include the yellow flower buds.

Some types grow later, in May, and have white blooms. These are edible as well. These are biennials and sometimes perennials.

Eating Wintercress Greens

Boil buds slightly in water, season, and give them a try. Sources say the taste is similar to broccoli. Foragers sometimes eat them without cooking and agree taste is best when leaves or flowers are young.

Leaves are a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A. Reportedly, they become bitter after buds burst. Catch them early if you want to give them a try. If you like the taste, these can be put up after blanching. Freeze the appropriate sized bags to use through seasons when they are not available in the wild.

Remember the spot where you located the wintercress greens and learn to recognize them in other areas. If these plants spring up in the landscape, create a bed there and keep some of them in it, maybe surrounded by other wild, edible greens. They return for a few years and new ones will likely grow there.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is for educational and gardening purposes only. Before using or ingesting ANY herb or plant for medicinal purposes or otherwise, please consult a physician, medical herbalist, or other suitable professional for advice.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.