Cardamine hirsuta

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hairy bittercress
Kleine veldkers Cardamine hirsuta plant.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Cardamine
C. hirsuta
Binomial name
Cardamine hirsuta
  • Cardamine multicaulis Hoppe ex Schur
  • Cardamine scutata var. formosana (Hayata) T.S. Liu & S.S. Ying
  • Cardamine umbrosa Andrz. ex DC.

Cardamine hirsuta, commonly called hairy bittercress, is an annual or biennial species of plant in the family Brassicaceae, and is edible[2] as a salad green. It is common in moist areas around the world.


Cardamine hirsuta flowers
Flowers and leaves

Depending on the climate C. hirsuta may complete two generations in a year, one in the spring and one in the fall; also depending on the climate, the seeds may germinate in the fall and the plants may remain green throughout the winter before flowering in the spring. It often grows a rosette of leaves at the base of the stem, while there may be leaves on the upright stem, most of the leaves will be part of the basal rosette. The leaves in this rosette are pinnately divided into 8–15 leaflets which have short stems connecting them to the petiole. These basal leaves are often 3.5–15 cm long. The leaflets are round to ovate in shape and may have smooth or dentate edges. The leaflet at the tip of the leaf (terminal leaflet) will be larger than the other leaflets and round to reniform in shape. The cauline (attached to the upright stem) leaves are also pinnately divided, with fewer leaflets, and generally smaller than the basal leaves; these leaves will be borne on a petiole and are 1.2–5.5 cm long. The stems, petioles, and upper surfaces of the cauline leaves are sparsely hairy.


Plants of this species are usually erect and grow to no more than about 30 centimetres (12 in) from a stem which is either unbranched or branched near the base.[3][4] The small white flowers are borne in a raceme without any bracts,[4] soon followed by the seeds and often continuing to flower as the first seeds ripen. The flowers have (4) white petals (which may be lacking but are mostly present)[5] which are 1.5–4.5 mm long and spatulate shaped. The flowers also have (4) stamens of equal height instead of the 6 which are found in most closely related plants. Pollens are elongated, approximately 32 microns in length.


Below the flowers there are 4 sepals which are oblong shaped and 1.5–2.5 mm long and .3–.7 mm wide. The seeds are borne in upright pointing siliquae which are straight and 1.5–2.5 cm long and 1–1.4mm in diameter. When the fruit is ripe the valves on the siliquae will coil tightly from the bottom to the top after being touched and burst explosively, sending the seeds flying far from the parent plant.[6] This seed dispersal strategy is referred to as ballochory and is a type of rapid plant movement.


Hairy bittercress is very similar to Cardamine flexuosa. Some differences are that 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. flexuosa the fruits do not overtop the younger flowers. The fruits grow in a thin pod arranged as a single row.[7][8]

Habitat and distribution[edit]

It is commonly found in damp, recently disturbed soil, open ground, turf and wasteplaces[6][9]: 401  and native to Europe as far east as the Caucasus, and to North Africa.[10] These conditions are prevalent in nursery or garden centre plants, and hairy bittercress seeds may be introduced with those plants. Once established, 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).

It is native to Eurasia but has been introduced in many countries across the world. Its range includes but is not limited to: Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Gabon, Great Britain, India, Japan, Laos, Madagascar, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United States, Venezuela, and Vietnam.[11][4][12]

The 1889 book 'The Useful Native Plants of Australia' records that it was also called "Lady's Smock" and that "This and other species afford excellent pot-herbs when luxuriant and flaccid. The present one is a common weed almost throughout the world."[13]

Etymology and naming[edit]

  • Binomial etymology
  • Common names
    • 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). Some of these common names may be shared with other plants in the family Brassicaceae and are therefore of limited usefulness since they may be shared. 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.


The leaves are edible raw and other tender parts of the plant can be cooked.[15]


  1. ^ "Tropicos | Name – !Cardamine hirsuta L." Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and Warburg, E.F. 1968. Excursion Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge. University Press. ISBN 0521046564
  4. ^ a b c "Taxon Page". Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Taxon Page". Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  6. ^ a b Rhoads, Ann; Block, Timothy (5 September 2007). The Plants of Pennsylvania (2 ed.). Philadelphia Pa: University of Pennsylvania press. ISBN 978-0-8122-4003-0.
  7. ^ Webb, D.A., Parnell, J. and Doogue, D. 1996. Dundalgan Press Ltd. ISBN 0852211317
  8. ^ Parnell, J. and Curtis, T. 2012. Webb's An Irish Flora. Cork University Press. ISBN 978-185918-4783
  9. ^ Stace, C. A. (2010). New Flora of the British Isles (Third ed.). Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521707725.
  10. ^ "Den virtuella floran – stängd för ombyggnad".
  11. ^ "Plants Profile for Cardamine hirsuta (hairy bittercress)". Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Tropicos | Name – !Cardamine hirsuta L." Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  13. ^ J. H. Maiden (1889). The useful native plants of Australia : Including Tasmania. Turner and Henderson, Sydney.
  14. ^ a b Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). pp 91, 201
  15. ^ Nyerges, Christopher (2017). Foraging Washington: Finding, Identifying, and Preparing Edible Wild Foods. Guilford, CT: Falcon Guides. ISBN 978-1-4930-2534-3. OCLC 965922681.

External links[edit]