Herb Sophia
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Herb Sophia
ative Photo: Gurcharan Singh
Common name: Herb Sophia, Fixweed, tansy mustard • Hindi: Khubkallana • Nepali: मसिनो तोरी झार Masino tori jhar
Botanical name: Descurainia sophia    Family: Brassicaceae (Mustard family)
Synonyms: Sisymbrium sophia

Herb Sophia is a adventive biennial or annual herb 0.5-2.5 ft tall. It branches occasionally, and is more or less erect. The stems are greyish or bluish green and pubescent, sometimes the lower stem is nearly glabrous and light purplish green. During the 1st year, biennial plants consist of a low-growing rosette of basal leaves spanning up to 1 ft across. The stem leaves alternate along the flowering stems, spanning up to 8 inches long and 4 inches across and becoming progressively smaller higher up on the stems. Both the basal and cauline leaves are double or triple pinnately lobed, greyish or bluish green, and finely pubescent. The lower leaves are long-stalked, upper ones are short-stalked. The upper stems end in racemes of flowers about 2-12 inches long. The flowers bloom near the apex of each raceme, while the slender seedpods develop below. Each small flower is about 3-4 mm across, consisting 4 pale yellow petals, 4 green sepals, 6 stamens with yellow anthers, and a pistil with a single style. Both the sepals and petals are quite narrow (especially the latter); the petals are about the same length as the sepals or a little shorter. This plant spreads by reseeding itself, the seeds are small enough to be blown about by the wind.Herb Sophia is found in Europe, N. Africa, W. & C. Asia and the Himalayas, at altitudes of 2200-4100 m. Flowering: April-June.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh Photographed in Srinagar, Kashmir & Lahaul, Himachal Pradesh.

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