Field Guide     Weed Management     Wormseed Mustard

Wormseed Mustard (Erysimum cheiranthoides L.)

Crop Impacts: Barley, corn, oats

Wormseed Mustard 1

About Wormseed Mustard:

Wormseed Mustard can be an annual or winter weed that reproduces by their seeds. This plant can be found throughout North America due to its skills to adapt to all types of soil, and weather conditions. Wormseed Mustard has been shown to poison pigs and cattle when consumed. It is very important that you prevent the seeds of Wormseed Mustard from contaminating fields where cereal grains could be used for feeding pigs. The seeds of this weed are not only poisonous but extremely bitter, and even if a small fraction of its seeds are in pigs feed, they will not eat it.

Family: Mustard Family (Cruciferae)

Wormseed Mustard 2

Wormseed Mustard Scouting and Prevention:

The stems of an average Wormseed Mustard weed can be 6 to 40 inches tall. Overall, the stems are straight, normally branched, firm, and hairless, with a rough texture to it. The most distinguishing feature of Wormseed Mustard is its slender leaves, which do not sit on the stem. Instead it is attached by short and thin branches. The leaves alternate are a little larger in the middle and taper near the ends. and can be slightly toothed. The flowers sit in clusters at the ends of branches and stems, and are quite small at about 6 mm across with pale yellow petals. The seedpods sit on a thin stalk about 1 cm long, nearly parallel to the stem. Interestingly enough, at full maturity the plant starts to turn purple, flowering in mid-June until late autumn. While the plant is flowering it typically releases fully matured seeds.

Common locations

  • - All soil types
  • - Barley fields
  • - Corn fields
  • - Oat fields


Prevention of Wormseed Mustard is less expensive and less time-consuming than trying to control it. Make sure when you are seeding a new area you are doing so with certified weed-free seeds. If there is an infested area on your property, be sure to drive around, instead of through it. Finally, make sure to give all equipment that has been in infested fields a good clean, to make sure no seeds are transferred.

Wormseed Mustard Control:

Cultural Control

A good way to control the population of Wormseed Mustard is by cultivation, or manually removing it by hand before the seeds develop. The best time to physically remove Wormseed Mustard is when the plant is young and the soil is wet. During this time you will have a higher probability, and an easier time removing the entire root system. Mowing is another option for little, older plants that are in the bub to bloom stage to reduce the seed production. Continuous control methods used over several growing seasons will eventually exhaust the seed bank of Wormseed Mustard.

Chemical Control

Trying to control older and larger plants is much more difficult and time consuming, therefore timely application is critical. Herbicides will be ineffective if applied when the plant is under stress. The herbicides will have more effect right before or right after rain due to the fact that the roots of the plants are taking in water at the time, which in turn means they will be taking in the herbicide as well. Products that contain active ingredients of 2,4-D, MCPA, dichloroprop/2,4-D or dicamba/MCPA/mecoprop have been shown to provide exceptional control over Wormseed Mustard. Some brands that have these active ingredients in them are 2,4-D amine, 2,4-D ester, MCPA amine, Target, Tracker, Sword and finally Estaprop, Dichlorprop D or Turboprop.

Latin / Alternative Wormseed Mustard names:

  • - Erysimum cheiranthoides L.
  • - ERYCH
  • - Vélar fausse giroflée
  • - Treacle mustard
  • - Vélar giroflée

Additional Wormseed Mustard Resources