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Perennial pepperweed

Perennial pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium)

An herbaceous, multi-stemmed perennial can reach to 5’ tall, but remains as a rosette for several weeks before bolting. Stems die back by late summer and the plants have a horseradish taste and odor.


Regulated areas of Perennial pepperweed
Perennial pepperweed is Prohibited (Red counties)

Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: tall whitetop, tall pepperweed, broadleaf pepperweed
  • Scientific names: Cardaria latifolia

Ecological threat:

  • A major threat to coastal beaches and dunes, along with nearby grasslands where it forms dense stands.
  • Can also invade pastures, agricultural fields, riparian zones, and disturbed areas.

Classification in Wisconsin: Prohibited

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for perennial pepperweed was based upon this literature review developed by the department.


Leaves: Rosette leaves are up to 12” long with serrated margins and 1-6” long petioles. Cauline leaves are waxy, gray-green, and senesce as the top of the plant develops. Also, cauline leaves are alternate, sessile, elliptical and much smaller than basal leaves. They are tapered at the base and have weakly serrate margins.

Flowers: Small, white flowers form dense cluster at the tops of the stems. Flowers have 4 small green sepals and 4 small petals.

Fruits & seeds: Each flower produces a 2-chambered capsule with one somewhat flattened red-brown seed in each chamber.

Roots: Thick taproots can be up to 6’ deep, form semi-woody crowns, and have creeping rhizomes.

Similar species: Hoary cress (Cardaria draba; non-native) looks slightly like perennial pepperweed but is only up to 3’ tall and leaves clasp the stem.


Known county distribution of perennial pepperweed
Counties in WI where perennial pepperweed has been reported (as of July 2011). Both vouchered and unvouchered reports included.

Do you have perennial pepperweed in your county but it isn't shaded on the map? Send us a report.


Mechanical: Not recommended due to extensive root system. Continual mowing, prior to seed-set, may help suppress populations.

Chemical: Mowing or grazing in spring followed by foliar spray of chlorsulfuron or imazapyr. Foliar spray of glyphosate at flower bud stage on small populations.

For more information on control techniques, visit the Perennial pepperweed factsheet [exit DNR] by University of Wisconsin-Extension.


View perennial pepperweed pictures in our photo gallery!


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Last revised: Friday May 31 2019