Virginia Peppergrass plant - Lepidium Virginicum (Brassicaceae)

Medicinal Use of Virginia Peppergrass – Lepidium Virginicum (Brassicaceae)


Annual herb growing to about 2 ft (60 cm). Has slender lance-shaped leaves and small white flowers.

Habitat & Cultivation

Virginia peppergrass is native to eastern North America and the Caribbean, and is naturalized in Australia. The leaves are gathered in spring and are consumed as food. The seedpods can serve as a subsitute for black pepper.

Parts Used

Leaves, root.


Virginia peppergrass contains high levels of vitamin C.

History & Folklore

The Menominee of eastern North America applied a lotion of Virginia peppergrass (or a bruised fresh plant) to poison ivy eruptions.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Virginia peppergrass is nutritious and generally detoxifying. It has been used to treat vitamin C deficiency and diabetes, and to expel intestinal worms. The herb is also diuretic and of benefit in easing rheumatic pain. The root is taken to treat excess phlegm within the respiratory tract.

Related Species

Maca (L. meyenii) is a low-growing Andean perennial. The root is valued as a staple food and medicine by Andean peoples, notably to support immune function and for hormonal disorders including sterility. Maca is now commonly available in supplement stores and has acquired a reputation as a tonic, hormone balancer, and aphrodisiac.