This plant is present in most of England and Southern Scotland where its heaviest concentrations are to be found in the west. In Ireland it prefers the eastern coast and hardly occurs at all in the west. It must be quite long lived because I found this specific site twenty years ago and, revisiting it in the vague hope that it still might be there, found the plant in exactly the same spot. It is also known as Smith's Cress.
The seeds are only viable in the soil for about two years.As all mustards, this early season plant has been traditionally eaten as a spring green. Add a few leaves to a salad for a spicy mustard flavor. Some prefer to cook whitetop in one or two changes of water (3-5 min. each). Please see the forager blogs Hunger and Thirst for Life, as well as Wild Food Girl for recipes and discussions of a potential safety concern.According to the Plants for a Future database, "young leaves and shoots [are eaten] raw in salads or cooked as a potherb. A report says that the young leaves contain the toxin hydrogen cyanide, though does not give any more details. In small quantities this substance is fairly harmless, and has even been recommended as having health benefits, but caution is suggested if you eat these leaves. The pungent leaves are used as a seasoning. The seed is used as a condiment, it is a pepper substitute." [Plants for a Future]. Rub the dried pods between your hands to knock the seeds loose and gently blow to separate the pods. Add the seeds to a salad or any dish for flavoring, or grind them and add vinegar and oil to make mustard paste.
How to get rid of:
Glyphosate is one of the
chemicals that effectively controls wild
sweet peas, generally with a kill rate of 95
percent or higher. To apply a concentrated
herbicide containing 18 percent glyphosate, dilute at a rate of 3 ounces in each 1 gallon of water. Spray the herbicide on a windless, sunny day when the temperature is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Glyphosate can kill desirable plants as well as weeds, so take care to spray only on the wild sweet peas. If the herbicide gets on a plant you want to keep, rinse the plant immediately with clean water. Always
read and follow label directions, and wear protective
clothing and eye protection when using chemical herbicides.
Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after use.