Cardamine hirsuta

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Cardamine hirsuta
Cardamine hirsuta.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Cardamine
Species: C. hirsuta
Binomial name
Cardamine hirsuta

Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, is an annual or biennial plant native to Europe and Asia, but also present in North America. The plant is a member of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), and is edible[1] as a bitter herb. It flowers from quite early in the Spring until the Autumn.


The small white flowers are borne in a corymb on wiry green stems, soon followed by the seeds and often continuing to flower as the first seeds ripen. The seed are borne in siliquae which, as with many Brassica species, will often burst explosively when touched (explosive dehiscence), sending the seeds flying far from the parent plant. Seeds germinate in the Autumn, and the tiny plants are winter annual (green throughout the winter months).

Plants of this species are usually annual, erect and grow to no more than 30 centimetres (12 in).[2] They are very similar to Cardamine flexuosa. The stems are hairless and the leaves do not clasp the stems, as in C.flexuosa. It has only 4 stamens, C. flexuosa has 6 stamens, and the fruits overtop the flowers. In C. flexuos the fruits do not overtop the younger flowers. The fruits grow in a thin pod arranged as a single row.[3][4]


Commonly found in damp, recently disturbed soil and wasteplaces. These conditions are prevalent in nursery or garden centre plants, and hairy bittercress seeds may be introduced with those plants. Once established, particularly in lawn areas, it is difficult to eradicate. The tiny flowers are attractive to a few early butterflies, including (in the United States) spring azure (Celastrina ladon) and falcate orange-tip (Anthocharis midea).


Cardamine hirsuta is common on open ground, rocks and walls and a weed of cultivation throughout the British Isles,[5]:401 Europe as far east as the Caucasus, and North Africa.[6]


Other common or country names include lamb's cress, land cress, hoary bitter cress, spring cress, flick weed, and shot weed (or lambscress, landcress, hoary bittercress, springcress, flickweed, and shotweed). As Old English stune, the plant is cited as one of the herbs invoked in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, recorded in the 10th century.


  1. ^ Dennis Horn, David Duhl, Thomas Ellsworth Hemmerly & Tavia Cathcart (2005). Wildflowers of Tennessee, the Ohio Valley, and the Southern Appalachians: the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society. Edmonton: Lone Pine Publishers. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-55105-428-5. 
  2. ^ Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and Warburg, E.F. 1968. Excursion Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge. University Press. ISBN 0521046564
  3. ^ Webb, D.A., Parnell, J. and Doogue, D. 1996. Dundalgan Press Ltd. ISBN 0852211317
  4. ^ Parnell, J. and Curtis, T. 2012. Webb's An Irish Flora. Cork University Press. ISBN 978-185918-4783
  5. ^ Stace, C.A. (2010). New flora of the British isles (Third ed.). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521707725. 
  6. ^

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