Hoary Cress

Scientific name:  Cardaria draba

Identification and Impacts

Hoary cress (Cardaria draba), commonly known as whitetop, is a creeping perennial that is a member of the mustard family and native to Europe. The stems, in the rosette stage, may grow up to 2 inches in height and produce grayish-green leaves that are lance shaped. The leaves are alternate and 3/4 to 4 inches long. The upper leaves have 2 lobes that clasp the stem. The plant has numerous small, white flowers with 4 petals on stalks radiating from a stem. Seed capsules are heart-shaped with two small, flat, reddish brown seeds. One plant can produce from 1,200 to 4,800 seeds. The plants emerge in early spring with stems emerging from the center of each rosette in late April. Hoary cress flowers from May to June and plants set seed by mid-summer.

Habitats for Hoary Cress include: fields, waste places, meadows, pastures, croplands and along roadsides. It is typically found on unshaded, generally open areas of disturbed ground. It generally does better with moderate amounts of precipitation and grows well on alkaline soils.

The key to effective control of Hoary cress is prevention. Preventing the encroachment of these weeds is the most cost-effective management. Preventing invasions by limiting seed dispersal, monitoring and using weed free hay, and quarantine animals that may have grazed in infested areas. Beyond prevention, the key is early detection when infestations are small, and aggressive management. Integrated Weed Management is required for proper control. Details on the back of this sheet can help to create a management plan compatible with your site ecology.

Hoary cress is designated as a “List B” species in the Colorado Noxious Weed Act. It is required to be either eradicated, contained, or suppressed depending on the local infestations. For more information visit www.colorado.gov/ag/weeds and click on the Noxious Weed Management Program or call Douglas County Weed Management at 303.660.7480.

Integrated Weed Management Recommendations

Cultural -
Prevent the establishment of new infestations by minimizing disturbance and seed dispersal, eliminating seed production and maintaining healthy native communities. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service for seed mix recommendations. Planting competitive legumes, such as alfalfa, can reduce Hoary cress in crop rotations.

Biological -
There is no biological control avaiable for Hoary cress. Since biological control agents take years to research, develop and release, no releases are expected in the foreseeable future. For more information, contact the Palisade Insectary of the Colorado Department of Agriculture at 970.464.7916.

Mechanical -
Mowing several times before the plants bolt stresses Hoary cress and forces the plant to use nutrient reserves stored in the root system. Combining mowing with herbicides will further enhance control of this weed. Mow repeatedly during the summer, then apply a herbicide in the fall.


NOTE: The following are recommendations for herbicides that can be applied to range and pasturelands. Rates are approximate and based on equipment with an output of 30 gal/acre. Please read label for exact rates. Always read, understand, and follow the label directions. The herbicide label is the LAW!




Metsulfuron (Escort XP)

1 oz. product/acre 0.25 v/v non-ionic surfactant

Apply at the early bud growth stage; i.e. “broccoli” growth stage. (Early Spring to Early Summer)

Chlorsulfuron (Telar)

1 oz. product/acre 0.25 v/v non-ionic surfactantApply at the early bud growth stage; i.e. “broccoli” growth stage. (Early Spring to Early Summer)
Imazapic (Plateau)12 fl. oz./acre + 2 pints/acre methylated seed oil or crop oil concentrateApply at late flower to post-flower growth stage. (Late Spring to Mid Summer)

Online Services:

Weed Management

Public Works Operations Division

3030 North Industrial Way
P.O. Box 1390
Castle Rock, CO 80109
Phone: 303.660.7480
Fax: 303.814.3319

Office Hours

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.