Barbarea vulgaris - Ait. f.
Garden Yellow-rocket
Other English Common Names: Bitter Wintercress, Yellow Rocket
Other Common Names: garden yellowrocket
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Barbarea vulgaris Ait. f. (TSN 22741)
French Common Names: barbarée vulgaire
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.158226
Element Code: PDBRA0A040
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Mustard Family
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Capparales Brassicaceae Barbarea
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Barbarea vulgaris
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (26Sep2015)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), California (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Florida (SNA), Georgia (SNR), Idaho (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Maine (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNA), Minnesota (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Montana (SNA), Nebraska (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New Mexico (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), North Dakota (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (SNA), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Utah (SNA), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNA), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada Alberta (SNA), British Columbia (SNA), Labrador (SNA), Manitoba (SNA), New Brunswick (SNA), Newfoundland Island (SNA), Northwest Territories (SNA), Nova Scotia (SNA), Ontario (SNA), Prince Edward Island (SNA), Quebec (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ALexotic, ARexotic, CAexotic, COexotic, CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, FLexotic, GA, IAexotic, IDexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KSexotic, KYexotic, MA, MDexotic, MEexotic, MIexotic, MNexotic, MOexotic, MTexotic, NCexotic, NDexotic, NEexotic, NHexotic, NJexotic, NMexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, OKexotic, ORexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, SDexotic, TNexotic, UTexotic, VAexotic, VTexotic, WAexotic, WIexotic, WVexotic, WYexotic
Canada ABexotic, BCexotic, LBexotic, MBexotic, NBexotic, NFexotic, NSexotic, NTexotic, ONexotic, PEexotic, QCexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Low/Insignificant
Rounded I-Rank: Low
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Yellow rocket (Barbarea vulgaris) is well-established in the northeast and Lake states, reasonably well-established in the Pacific northwest, and scattered in the great plains, northern plains, and northern southeast states. It is an important agricultural weed, regulated as a noxious weed seed in at least 6 states. From its usual initial establishment points of cultivated fields or waste places, it can spread to a variety of upland and wetland habitats, including prairies/grasslands, upland forests and woodlands, riparian herbaceous vegetation and wet meadows, wetland forests (riparian and swamps), and partially open upland habitats (old fields and forest edges). Although it can achieve reasonably high abundance in invaded areas, especially areas with intermittent disturbance, it does not appear to have significant impacts on biodiversity; the species is a weak competitor and does not influence ecosystem processes. Control is easily accomplished through hand-pulling, mowing, or herbicide, although the seed bank may persist for 10 years or more.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Insignificant
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Low/Insignificant
I-Rank Review Date: 12Dec2005
Evaluator: Gravuer, K.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Native to a substantial area of Eurasia as well as part of northern Africa.
Northern Africa: Algeria, Tunisia. Asia: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation (Ciscaucasia, Dagestan, Eastern Siberia [s.w.], Western Siberia), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, China (Xinjiang [n.]), Nepal, Pakistan. Europe: Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russian Federation (European part), Ukraine [incl. Krym], Albania, Bulgaria, Italy [incl. Sardinia, Sicily], Romania, Yugoslavia, France [incl. Corsica], Portugal, Spain (GRIN 2001).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: This species is a non-native that is established outside of cultivation (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Invades prairies/grasslands, upland forests and woodlands, riparian herbaceous vegetation and wet meadows, wetland forests (riparian and swamps), and partially open upland habitats (old fields, forest edges, and roadsides) (Wisconsin State Herbarium 2005).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Insignificant

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Insignificant
Comments: This species was introduced to North America around 1800 (MacDonald and Cavers 1991). Despite being present for over 200 years and being reasonably well-studied because of its significance as an agricultural weed, no reports of impacts on ecosystem processes or system-wide parameters were found. Therefore, assume impacts insignificant.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Insignificant
Comments: Often noted to be abundant at sites where naturalized (e.g. Voss 1985). This abundance may slightly increase the density of the herbaceous layer in the habitats it invades. No other impacts on community structure reported.

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Although a few sources noted this species to be aggressive (e.g. Voss 1985), this description is most likely in reference to its rapid colonization ability rather than its competitive impact within invaded communities. Indeed, MacDonald and Cavers (1991) note that the main contributor to the weediness of this species is its ability to establish rapidly (often from the seed bank) when sites become available; they note that its competitive ability (especially with grasses) is limited, particularly in dry or mesic soils. Similarly, Egler (1983) observed the species in the field for several years in Connecticut and noted that it was never aggressive. Therefore, some limited impacts on community composition may occur when this species establishes abundantly in sites where native might otherwise establish, but impacts should not be significant due to its limited competitive ability.

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Insignificant
Comments: No mention of disproportionate impacts on particular native species found in the literature; assumption is that any impacts are not significant. The possibility of hybridization is difficult to evaluate (MacDonald and Cavers 1991).

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Common associates of this species include brome grass, Kentucky bluegrass, wild carrot, and ragweed (Kline 2002), suggesting that it does not often threaten rare elements or high-quality communities. However, it has been found in relatively intact natural communities such as prairies and herbaceous wetlands (Wisconsin State Herbarium 2005), so it may pose a minimal threat to high-quality community occurrences in some cases.

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High significance
Comments: Well-established in the northeastern states, south to about NC, TN, and AR. Absent from MS and LA, questionably present in FL, and scattered in the northern southeast. Also well-established in the lake states west to e. MN, e. IA, e. KS, and e. OK. Scattered on the great plains and northern plains. Reasonably well-established in the Pacific northwest, south to n. CA, ne. UT, and n. NM. Absent from AK and HI. Generalized range estimated to cover approximately 50% of the U.S. (Kartesz 1999, Great Plains Flora Association 1977, NRCS 2005, Rice 2005).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: The seeds of this species have been declared noxious weeds in Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin (GRIN 2001, NRCS 2005). It is also listed in weed manuals for at least the Northeast, Kentucky and adjacent states, and Nebraska and the Great Plains (NRCS 2005). However, these listings likely reflect its importance as an agricultural weed rather than its impacts on biodiversity. It has been reported as invasive in Michigan by two sources (Swearingen 2005). It appears that the impacts if this species are confined to a small part of its range.

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:High significance
Comments: Approximately 37 ecoregions are invaded, based on visual comparison of the generalized range and ecoregions map (The Nature Conservancy 2001).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: The rosettes can tolerate a wide range of soil moisture regimes (dry to subhydric) and can withstand submersion and silt deposition (MacDonald and Cavers 1991). Plants will grow in a range of light intensities from open, bare ground to woodland with complete canopy (MacDonald and Cavers 1991). 4-5 major habitat types are invaded: prairies/grasslands and their human-influenced analogues (cultivated fields, pastures, disturbed open areas, waste places), upland forests and woodlands, riparian herbaceous vegetation and wet meadows, wetland forests (riparian and swamps), and partially open upland habitats (old fields, forest edges, and roadsides) (Wisconsin State Herbarium 2005).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Spread into western states is apparently relatively recent (MacDonald and Cavers 1991). It is possible that the species is still invading new areas on this front.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance
Comments: The southward spread of this species is limited to areas with several weeks at 5 degrees C or less because it has an obligate requirement for vernalization (MacDonald and Cavers 1991). However, there do not appear to be abiotic limits on its increase within the Great Plains region, where it currently exhibits only scattered establishment.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Through biological dispersal mechanisms alone, most seeds are deposited within a meter of the parent (MacDonald and Cavers 1991). However, seeds can pass through a variety of animals (e.g. cattle, horses, pigs, rabbits) and remain viable. This species is also a known contaminant of seed lots of timothy and similar-sized grains (MacDonald and Cavers 1991). Although its presence in seed lots is prohibited or regulated in several states (GRIN 2001, NRCS 2005), contamination still likely provides at least some long-distance transport opportunities.

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Moderate significance
Comments: Exhibiting local spread in regions it has invaded relatively recently, such as California (Kozak 1999), but apparently stable in regions where it has been present for several decades, such as Wisconsin (MacDonald and Cavers 1991).

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Although this species does best on recently-disturbed sites, it can also take advantage of openings in older communities, such as woodlands (MacDonald and Cavers 1991). However, it does poorly in open, established vegetation such as grassland (Egler 1983, MacDonald and Cavers 1991). It often first establishes in highly-disturbed areas, then spreads from those into more natural habitats such as woods (especially along roads and trails) and shores (Voss 1985).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Low significance
Comments: Naturalized in at least Canada, New Zealand, and Japan (Randall 2002); one source noted it to be widely naturalized (GRIN 2001). However, it appears to invade similar habitats in these locations (e.g. Scoggan 1978).

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Moderate significance
Comments: In an experiment in Ontario, seed production per plant ranged from 280 in an unfavorable habitat to 88,000 in an ideal habitat; another estimate of seed production under favorable conditions was 40,000-116,000 seeds per plant (MacDonald and Cavers 1991). Therefore, assumed that the typical plant would probably produce more than 1,000 seeds annually. The longevity of some natural seed banks has been estimated at around 3 years (Buchholtz et al. 1960, Peat and Fitter 2005), but longevity of 10-20 years is also possible under the right conditions (MacDonald and Cavers 1991). Apparently exhibits weak vegetative reproduction (e.g. from cauline rosettes or rosettes that arise from root fragments exposed to sunlight; MacDonald and Cavers 1991), but this does not appear to make a significant contribution to its ecology.

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Low/Insignificant

17. General Management Difficulty:Low significance
Comments: Control of this species has been described as not difficult (Drew and Helm 1941). Scattered plants can be pulled out without fear of re-sprouting (Muenscher 1955). For larger infestations, mowing or topping of flowering plants is recommended to prevent seed set, while plants in the rosette stage can be controlled by herbicide or cultivation (Muenscher 1955, MacDonald and Cavers 1991). Restoration strategies which include re-planting should be very successful, as this species is not a strong competitor (MacDonald and Cavers 1991).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Medium/Low significance
Comments: The longevity of some natural seed banks has been estimated at around 3 years (Buchholtz et al. 1960, Peat and Fitter 2005), but longevity of 10-20 years is also possible under the right conditions (MacDonald and Cavers 1991).

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: The opportunity for control by hand-pulling or topping means that, in many cases, management could result in only very minor impacts on native species. If herbicide application to rosettes becomes necessary, however, there is the potential for some impact to occur.

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Because infestations with biodiversity impact often spread from recently disturbed areas, infestations that are targets for control should be relatively accessible. However, some target infestations may occur on privately-owned farmlands (e.g. in woodlands owned by farmers).

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Buchholtz, K.P., B.H. Grigsby, O.C. Lee, F.W. Slife, C.J. Willard, and N.J. Volk. (eds) 1960. Weeds of the North Central States. University of Illinois, Agricultural Experimental Station 262 pgs.

  • Drew, W. B. and C. A. Helm. 1941. Representative Missouri weeds and their control. Bulletin 433, University of Missouri College of Agriculture Agricultural Experiment Station. Columbia, Missouri.

  • Egler, F. E. 1983. The nature of naturalization II. Studies in naturalization: 1925-1980. The introduced flora of Aton Forest, Connecticut. Publication No. 6, Claude E. Phillips Herbarium, Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Delaware State College, Dover, Delaware.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2010. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 7. Magnoliophyta: Salicaceae to Brassicaceae. Oxford University Press, New York. xxii + 797 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Kline, J. 2002, 14 October last update. Wisconsin plant of the week. Online. Available: (Accessed 2005).

  • Kozak, C. 1999, 11 October last update. Native plants of Montara mountain (with a few non-native types included). Online. Available: (Accessed 2005).

  • MacDonald, M. A. and P. B. Cavers. 1991. The biology of Canadian weeds. 97. Barbarea vulgaris R.Br. Canadian Journal of Plant Sciences 71: 149-166.

  • Meades, S.J. & Hay, S.G; Brouillet, L. 2000. Annotated Checklist of Vascular Plants of Newfoundland and Labrador. Memorial University Botanical Gardens, St John's NF. 237pp.

  • Muenscher, W. C. 1955. Weeds. The MacMillan Co., New York.

  • Peat, H., and A. Fitter. 2005. The Ecological Flora of the British Isles at the University of York. Available: (Accessed 2005).

  • Randall, R.P. 2002. A global compendium of weeds. R.G. and F.J. Richardson, Melbourne. 905 pp.

  • Rice, P.M. 2005. Invaders Database System. Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula. Online. Available: (Accessed 2005).

  • Scoggan, H.J. 1978-1979. The flora of Canada: Parts 1-4. National Museums Canada, Ottawa. 1711 pp.

  • Swearingen, J. 2005. Alien plant invaders of natural areas. Plant Conservation Alliance, Alien Plant Working Group. Available: (Accessed 2005)

  • The Great Plains Flora Association. 1977. Atlas of the flora of the Great Plains. Iowa State Univ. Press. 600 pp.

  • The Nature Conservancy. 2001. Map: TNC Ecoregions of the United States. Modification of Bailey Ecoregions. Online . Accessed May 2003.

  • USDA NRCS. 2005. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 ( National Plant Data Center (, Baton Rouge, LA.

  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. 2001. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN). [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.URL: (Accessed 2005)

  • Voss, E.G. 1985. Michigan flora. Part II. Dicotyledons. Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium. Ann Arbor, Michigan. 1212 pp.

  • Wisconsin State Herbarium. 2005. Wisconsin state herbarium vascular plant species database. Available: (Accessed 2005).

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