Nevada Fish & Wildlife Office
Pacific Southwest Region

Tahoe Yellow Cress
(Rorippa subumbellata)

Tahoe Yellow Cress (click here for larger image)

Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Capparales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Rorippa
Species: subumbellata
Habitat: Sandy soils along shoreline of Lake Tahoe

Official Status:


Life History:

Perennial herbs from deeply buried rhizomes, overall color dark to purplish green (sometimes yellowish); stems generally prostrate, 5-20 cm long; leaves mainly on stems (not basal), somewhat succulent, pinnately lobed; flowers 2.5-4 mm long, crowded near tips of stems, sepals 4, purplish-green, hairless and persistent in fruit, petals 4, yellow, stamens 6; seed pods shiny, 3-6 mm long, > 1.5 mm wide, hairless, styles 1-1.5 mm long, hairless, stigmas not expanded. Distinguished from Rorippa columbiae by its glabrous sepals, fruits, and styles, styles 1-1.5 mm long, and stigmas not expanded. Distinguished from R. curvisiliqua by perennial rhizomatous habit, lack of basal leaf rosette, flowers 2.5-4 mm long, sepals persistent in fruit, fruit 3-6 mm long, > 1.5 mm wide.


Distribution and Habitat:


Coarse sand and sandy soils (often among cobbles or boulders) of active beaches, stream inlets, beach dunes, and backshore depressions, generally within a few feet of the local water table, in the shore zone of Lake Tahoe at elevations of 6223-6230 ft.




Occupies a narrow 3m-wide elevation band on the shores of Lake Tahoe, where it apparently requires an interaction of soil moisture, low competition from other plant species and coarse sandy soil texture. This habitat is nearly eliminated during periods when high lake levels are maintained, but in drought years, when lake levels drop up to six feet, this shoreline habitat is substantial


Actions / Current Information:


  • Pavlik, B. et al. 2002. Conservation Strategy for Tahoe Yellow Cress (Rorippa subumbellata). Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Lake Tahoe, NV (1.6 MB PDF)
    Last updated: April 16, 2014