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ORRIN MORRIS: Black mustard cooked, eaten as greens during Colonial days

I call today's species a roadside wildflower because it thrives in some of the most barren habitats. As a gift from the Creator, it reminds us that God is present even though the circumstances of our life cause us to feel neglected, rejected, and left to survive in a barren place.BLACK MUSTARD

Brassica nigraSeveral years ago as Stonecrest Mall was being developed, I stopped on the side of a partly developed street. I got out and walked along the recently graded shoulder where I discovered three specimens of this wildflower.

Those plants were only 18 inches tall, but as I researched the species I learned some may grow to 6 feet or more.

At first glance, the black mustard appears to have both yellow and white blooms but this is not so. The yellow flowers bleach in the sun and as they die they turn a translucent white, somewhat like wet tissue paper.

The flowers measure less than 1 inch in diameter with four petals that rarely overlap.

The leaves along the lower part of the stem are deeply lobed, as pictured. The seed pods mature along the stem within a week or so after the bloom falls.

Black mustard was brought to America from Europe during the Colonial days. The young leaves were cooked and eaten as greens. Further, the seeds were crushed for the distinctively flavored oil, used as a seasoning, according to "The New Garden Encyclopedia," edited by E.L.D. Seymour.

Several varieties of the mustard family have been developed for modern gardens. These include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi and turnips.

There are many wildflowers that bring joy when they bloom. When we ignore them we deprive ourselves of the calming assurance of God's abundant blessing. Many of these wildflowers are so small that we have to kneel to really see them.

If God is so generous with the flowers of nature, think of how much more eager He is to abundantly bless us, His highest creation.

Too often we are in such a rush to either make money or spend money that we do not take time to enjoy wildflowers. Proverbs 28:20 reminds us to evaluate anew the order of our priorities: "A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished."

Often that punishment is self-inflicted by anxiety and/or overindulgence.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher.

Notecards are available of the wildflowers published in the Citizen. His e-mail is odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com or call him at 770-929-3697.