May 02, 2014

Purple Mustard Explained

Image from Southwest Colorado Wildflowers.
Apparently the combination of several dry years, followed by a pretty good late-summer monsoon in 2013 and decent winter snow has produced so much purple mustard (Chorispora tenella) that people in southern Colorado are asking, "What are the purple flowers?"

Westcliffe botanist Christine MacLeod explains all here.

"During the drier years, seeds from many of our high prairie plants, including purple mustard, chose to remain dormant in the soil, contributing to a rich seed bank for years to come. Seeds can stay in dormancy for many years until the conditions are optimal for sprouting. And that is just what they all have done these past few weeks."

It's another invasive Asian species.

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