Clasping Pepperweed (Lepidium perfoliatum), also known as Shield peppergrass, is blooming like crazy around the ranch right now. Clasping pepperweed belongs to the mustard (Brassicaceae) family. It is considered a weed and is a native of Europe, but now grows in much of the western United States. It's an easy plant to identify with its uniquely shaped leaves. The leaves along most of the stem are heart shaped and look as if they are clasping at the stem, they also look like little shields surrounding the stem, hence the common names. The leaves on the lower part of the stem look quite different they are fine and pinnatly lobed. The flowers are little yellow tufts located at the end of the stem.
As with all mustards, clasping pepperweed is edible. The seeds can be dried or used fresh as a substitute for black pepper. The greens can be used in salads and have a pleasant taste. Typically, younger plants taste better and are more nutritious, older plants tend to taste bitter, but taste better if boiled. Mustards, in general, contain a good amount vitamins A, B, and C.
In addition, mustard seeds have been used to aid in digestion and can be made into a paste and used as a poultice to the chest to relieve bronchial congestion, however this has been known to cause burning and blisters if the poultice is left on the skin for too long.
As always, before you ingest any wild plant material or use any wild plant material as a remedy please be sure you consult an expert or are an expert yourself.