Chorispora tenella study

Name: Chorispora tenella
Family: Brassicaceae
Common names: musk mustard, blue mustard, purple mustard, crossflower
Identifying characteristics: lavender flowers with four petals in the shape of a "+", distinctive musky odor that some find unpleasant, I agree with Southwest Colorado Wildflowers that it smells rather nicely like melted crayons.
Size: 4-12"
Environment: sunny fields, pastures, roadsides
Season: Early spring, March-May
Edible parts: leaves, tender stalks, flowers, and seed pods
Taste: From mild and nearly sweet, to spicy like a radish. I strongly believe it has an aftertaste of mushrooms, but not everyone agrees with me.
Cautions: Some authors, including Cattail Bob Seebeck, warn that mustard plants can cause gastric irritation. I've not experienced an upset tummy after eating this plant, even after eating several big handfuls of the raw plant in the field.
Status: Although not on Colorado's noxious weeds list, this introduced species of mustard spreads prolifically by seed. Do not worry about over-harvesting this plant, you'd have a hard time making a dent in the population even if you tried.
Recipes and related articles:
Musk Mustard Chimichurri
Denver Musard Mania by Wild Food Girl
note: I apologize for forgetting to include an object for scale. I will insert a picture of the plant gone to seed just as soon as I see one. I can't seem to find a picture of musk mustard in seed in my archives.

Chorispora tenella, flower

Chorispora tenella, leaves and flowers

Chorispora tenella, leaf morphology

Chorispora tenella, whole plant, flowering



  1. Beautiful new format.

  2. The picture with all the leaves is very helpful. Thx!

  3. Love the burlap.

    1. It's actually a woven nettle fiber from forager Sunny Savage's line, Savage Designs.

  4. Nicely done. I think I'm going to have to try eating it now. Having a hard time imagining a spicy plant that tastes like mushrooms.

  5. OMG I have been staring at a mystery plant around 8,300 feet, in basal rosette stage, for like 3 weeks now. Today, I found some bolted specimens. Freakin' musk mustard!! Your morphology has been quite useful! Thx:)

  6. Fascinating blog. I have only dabbled in foraging, and blue mustard is a food I am familiar with and find delicious. At first I only connected the smell (which I didn't mind, and now look forward to) to the purple flowers, but after mowing a large patch of it a couple times, I had to identify this plant that smelled just like chopped cabbage. A quick google search was all the convincing I needed, and soon I was munching. To me it's very much like cabbage, the larger stems tasting like a spicy cabbage heart. I tried making a crock of wild sauerkraut, with mixed results. It tasted okay (before it molded over), but I think the stems alone might work better than the flimsy leaves. Definitely a valuable plant with much culinary potential, and really brightens the landscape as it blooms together with the yellow dandelions.


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