American Upland Cress (Barbarea verna) are biennial, edible leafy-green vegetables from the Brassicaceae (cabbage) family. The young leaves, which are spicy in flavour, are often used as a substitute for watercress in dishes, and can be cooked, or used fresh in salads and sandwiches. They’re nutritious leaf vegetables that contain high amounts vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium, and are worthwhile additions to any productive garden.
These plants are also excellent companion plants for natural pest control, and can be used as dead end trap crops for controlling the following pests:
Diamondback Moth (Plutella xylostella), a specialist pest which only attacks plants from the brassica family, the most destructive insect pest of cruciferous vegetables worldwide.
Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae), a generalist pest which not only attacks plants from the brassica family as the name suggests, but a wide range of other plants also.
How do these plants control pests? They put out substances from their leaves known as glucosinolates which stimulate diamondback moths and cabbage moths to lay their eggs on them, but they also contain natural soap-like substances known as saponins which kill the baby caterpillars when they hatch and eat the leaves!