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Tumble Mustard

Scientific Name:

Sisymbrium altissimum


Herbaceous Plant


Widespread across a variety of habitats including grasslands in mountains, deserts, plains, and near wetlands


Native to Eurasia and is a common weed in North America


No listed status

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


Tumble mustard grows from a single stem and branches out to multiple stem clusters (or inflorescence). The inflorescence sprouts groupings of small pale yellow, and on rare occasion white, flowers (or raceme). Tumble mustard grows 5 feet or more in height, making it the tallest species in the mustard family. Tumble mustard has what is known as a taproot system, which is a thick, long main root that sprouts to multiple smaller roots. Tumble mustard is a winter annual or biennial plant species. In other words, their seeds germinate in early spring and winter, and their flowers bloom in mid-spring through early fall.

Fast Facts:

  • Tumble mustard is commonly referred to as “Jim Hill mustard.” Jim Hill was the name of an early railroad magnate. The nickname “Jim Hill mustard” refers to tumble mustard’s introduction to North America via railroad.

  • The Navajo Tribe would mix mashed tumble mustard seeds with goats milk to make porridge.

  • While tumble mustard is more often found in loose soil types, such as sand, it is known to also grow in compact soil types as well.

  • Tumble mustard is known for being widespread and resilient, which makes it difficult to pinpoint any one habitat as tumble mustard’s ecosystem, or exclude certain ecosystems as potential habitats.1 The following is a list of habitats that tumble mustard could potentially be found in: mountain grasslands, plains grasslands, prairie, desert grasslands, and wet grasslands.

  • While tumble mustard can be found throughout Canada and the US, it is most commonly invasive in the western region of the US.

  • Here in Northern Nevada, tumble mustard has been spotted at Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Hidden Valley Regional Park, both in June 2020, according to iNaturalist reportings.



Sara Monks (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

June 16, 2021 at 8:50:00 PM

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