Desert Alyssum is a reseeding annual native to Eurasia, introduced into North America. As with other plants, the word wort means medicine, and mad-wort essentially meant, “medicine to treat madness.”
Primary use: Eating the raw leaves.
All parts are edible raw or cooked. Yellow alyssum has a rather mild flavor for a brassica. Like all brassicas, the leaves, seeds, and flowers are edible.
The word “alyssum” comes from the Greek words “a-” (meaning without) and “lyssa” which means “madness.” The tradition is that it was used to treat rabies, which causes madness. Hence the name madwort, meaning “mad-medicine.” See https://thenatureniche.com/2014/05/23/desert-madwort/
Yellow alyssum is eaten by western harvester ants, rabbits, pronghorn antelope, and sage-grouse.
Though there is no major health risk around yellow alyssum, the dried pods can be notoriously annoying when they stick to shoes and socks.
More photos of Alyssum alyssoides