Wild Mustard Traces The Trail From Mission To Mission In California

Here's a snap from our speeding car as we returned from the Wedding Of The Century (first time to the altar for a pair of 50 year-olds! Fantastic!)

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Legend has it that missionaries spread mustard seed along their path from mission to mission to mark their way –  á la Hansel and Gretel. All these years later, the Golden State bursts into bloom from stem to stern, as yellow mustard flowers transform local hillsides into impressionistic drifts of color for a few short weeks each Spring. As it turns out, the legend isn’t completely accurate. While it’s true that the missionaries used plantings to guide their way, it was the California Pepper Tree (a native of Spain) that did the job, the mustard is actually a California native!

The mustard is edible and abundantly nutritious, but I haven’t tried it myself (and you shouldn’t either without verification of plant identification by an expert – just sayin’). What a great time to venture forth by road or rail to visit the missions and learn a little about California history, legend and lore, or for a wine tasting trip, up or down the yellow brick road!

If you’re thinking of using the mustard as your guide, I applaud your romantic heart, but must advise you to use your Nav. The mustard has been blowing in the wind for a couple of hundred years or so and like the breadcrumbs dropped by Hansel and Gretel, can no longer promise a reliable route home.


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Wild Mustard Traces The Trail From Mission To Mission In California — 2 Comments

  1. The pepper tree is actually native to Peru, although it should grow well in Spain. Most of these mustards are not native to California but to Mediterranean Europe.
    • Hi Bob,
      So the lore continues! Thank you for weighing in. This article was revised after being disabused of my initial research. Your information is much appreciated, although I must confess, now, I’m more confused than ever!

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