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wavy bitter-cress, wood bitter-cress, woodland bitter-cress

bitter-cress, toothwort

Habit Annuals or biennials; sparsely to densely hirsute basally or throughout, or glabrous. Annuals, biennials, or perennials; (perennials usually rhizomatous, sometimes tuberiform, stolons present in C. flagellifera, caudex present in C. bellidifolia); not scapose (subscapose in C. bellidifolia); glabrous or pubescent.



erect, ascending, or decumbent, branched or unbranched, (0.6–)1–5 dm, (slightly flexuous).

erect, ascending, decumbent, or prostrate, unbranched or branched.


cauline, rhizomal, or basal;

rhizomal and basal rosulate or not, petiolate, blade margins entire, toothed, or 1–3-pinnatisect, or palmately lobed, sometimes trifoliolate, pinnately, palmately, or bipinnately compound (leaflets petiolulate, subsessile, or sessile);

cauline (usually alternate, rarely opposite or whorled) petiolate or sessile, blade (base cuneate, attenuate, or auriculate to sagittate), margins entire, dentate, or variously lobed, (leaflets petiolulate or sessile).

Basal leaves

(often withered by anthesis), not rosulate, 5–15-foliolate, (2.7–)4–14(–19) cm, leaflets petiolulate;

petiole 0.7–5 cm, (ciliate or not);

lateral leaflet blade oblong, ovate, or elliptic, smaller than terminal, margins entire, repand, crenate, or 3 (or 5)-lobed;

terminal leaflet (petiolule 0.3–1.7 cm), blade reniform, broadly ovate, or suborbicular, 0.5–2.5 cm × 4–30 mm, margins repand, crenate, or 3 or 5-lobed.

Cauline leaves

3–15, 5–15-foliolate [leaves (2–)3.5–5.5(–7) cm, including petiole], petiolate, leaflets petiolulate;

petiole base not auriculate;

lateral leaflets similar to basal, (0.4–2.5 mm wide).



(corymbose or paniculate, bracteate in C. pattersonii), elongated in fruit.


sepals oblong, 1.5–2.5 × 0.7–1 mm, lateral pair not saccate basally;

petals white, spatulate, 2.5–4(–5) × 1–1.7 mm; (stamens rarely 4, lateral pair absent);

filaments 2–3 mm;

anthers ovate, 0.3–0.5 mm.

sepals (caducous), usually erect, rarely spreading or ascending, ovate or oblong, lateral pair saccate or not basally, (usually glabrous, rarely pubescent);

petals (rarely absent), white, pink, purple, or lilac, obovate, spatulate, or oblanceolate, claw absent or strongly differentiated from blade, (apex obtuse, rounded, emarginate, or subemarginate);

stamens (6, rarely 4), equal in length;

filaments not dilated basally;

anthers ovate, oblong, or linear, (apex obtuse), glabrous [rarely pubescent];

nectar glands confluent, lateral glands annular or semiannular, subtending bases of stamens, median glands present (2, rarely 4) or absent.

Fruiting pedicels

divaricate or ascending, (5–)6–14(–17) mm.

erect, ascending, divaricate, or reflexed, slender or stout.


linear, (torulose), (0.8–)1.2–2.8 cm × 1–1.5 mm;

ovules 18–40 per ovary;

style 0.3–1(–1.5) mm.

siliques, sessile, usually linear, rarely narrowly oblong or narrowly lanceolate, smooth or torulose, latiseptate;

valves (papery, elastically dehiscent, becoming spirally or circinately coiled) each not veined, glabrous or, rarely, pubescent;

replum strongly flattened;

septum complete, (membranous);

ovules 4–80 per ovary;

style usually distinct, rarely obsolete;

stigma capitate.


brown, oblong or subquadrate, 0.9–1.5 × 0.6–1 mm, (narrowly margined or not).

uniseriate, flattened, usually not winged, rarely margined or winged, oblong, ovoid, or globose;

seed coat (smooth, minutely reticulate, colliculate, or rugose) mucilaginous or not when wetted;

cotyledons accumbent, rarely incumbent.


= 7, 8.


= 32.

Cardamine flexuosa


Phenology Flowering Apr–Jul.
Habitat Disturbed areas, fields, nurseries, plantations, gardens, flower beds, lawns, roadsides
Elevation 0-1100 m (0-3600 ft)
from FNA
AL; CA; FL; GA; IL; IN; LA; MD; MI; NC; NY; OH; OR; RI; TX; VA; WA; BC; NF; ON; Europe; e Asia [Introduced in North America; introduced also in Mexico, Central America, South America, Australia]
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from USDA
Nearly worldwide
[BONAP county map]

According to J. Lihová et al. (2006), the populations referred to Cardamine flexuosa in North America comprise two taxa of different polyploid origins and evolutionary histories: tetraploid C. flexuosa (2n = 32), native to Europe, and the octoploid taxon informally called “Asian C. flexuosa” (2n = 64), native to eastern Asia. For the latter, the name C. flexuosa subsp. debilis can be used. Nevertheless, these two taxa should be recognized at species level and the correct name for the Asian species should be sought. Based on available data, both taxa occupy the same habitats in North America, but the Asian taxon is much more widespread. The occurrence of European C. flexuosa was, until now, confirmed only for Washington, where both taxa have been recorded. More detailed studies of the North American distributions of both these weeds are needed.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Species ca. 200 (39 in the flora).

R. C. Rollins (1993) recognized 50 species and 18 varieties of Cardamine in North America minus Greenland. Of these, 14 species are restricted to Central America and one, C. ×incisa (Eames) K. Schumann, is not recognized here. The oversplitting of some species into poorly delimited varieties is avoided in this account, and four species (C. blaisdellii, C. holmgrenii, C. nymanii, C. umbellata) are added to the flora. Cardamine corymbosa Hooker f., a native of New Zealand, apparently is becoming naturalized in greenhouses and in some gardens in British Columbia, as evidenced from Lomer 4368 (MO), a specimen collected in Sechelt Peninsula on 6 June 2002.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

1. Racemes bracteate.
C. pattersonii
1. Racemes ebracteate
→ 2
2. Cauline leaves (at least some) simple (rarely absent)
→ 3
2. Cauline leaves pinnately or palmately compound, 3-25-foliolate, sometimes pinnatisect and appearing compound
→ 14
3. Petioles of cauline leaves auriculate basally.
C. clematitis
3. Petioles of cauline leaves not auriculate basally (rarely these leaves absent)
→ 4
4. Plants with distinct caudices; rhizomes absent; cauline leaves 0 or 1 (or 2).
C. bellidifolia
4. Plants without caudices; rhizomes present; cauline leaves 2-23 (sometimes 1 in C. purpurea)
→ 5
5. Petals 0-0.7 mm; fruiting pedicels 0.5-2(-4) mm.
C. longii
5. Petals 3.5-28 mm; fruiting pedicels (5-)7-50 mm
→ 6
6. Ovules 40-80 per ovary.
C. rotundifolia
6. Ovules 10-24 per ovary
→ 7
7. Fruits 0.8-1.6 cm × 0.8-1 mm; anthers ovate, ca. 0.2 mm; petals 3.5-5 × 1.2-1.8 mm.
C. micranthera
7. Fruits (1.5-)2-6 cm × 1.2-4 mm; anthers oblong to linear, 0.6-3 mm; petals (5-)7-28 × 3-7 mm
→ 8
8. Rhizomes (not fleshy), 1-3 mm diam.; rhizomal leaves usually absent
→ 9
8. Rhizomes (fleshy), (3-)4-18 mm diam.; rhizomal leaves present
→ 11
9. Petals 15-28 mm; sepals 6-8 mm.
C. constancei
9. Petals 5-12 mm; sepals 2-4.5 mm
→ 10
10. Cauline leaves (3-)5-17(-23); petals white, 7-12 mm; fruits (2-)2.5-3.7(-4) cm; stems 2-7(-10.2) dm.
C. cordifolia
10. Cauline leaves 1-3; petals usually purple to pink, rarely white, 5-7(-9) mm; fruits 1.5-2.5 cm; stems to 1.5 dm.
C. purpurea
11. Petals 3-5 mm wide; fruits 1.4-2 mm wide; e, c North America
→ 12
11. Petals 4-8 mm wide; fruits 2-4 mm; California
→ 13
12. Petals usually white, rarely pale pink; stem distally glabrous or trichomes 0.02-0.1 mm.
C. bulbosa
12. Petals usually purple or pink, rarely white; stem distally with trichomes (0.2-)0.3-0.6(-0.8) mm.
C. douglassii
13. Petals white or pale rose, rarely purple, 8-13(-17) mm; ovules 12-22 per ovary; stems (2-)2.7-6(-7) dm; rhizomal leaves usually 3(-7)-foliolate, rarely simple.
C. californica
13. Petals usually purple or pink, rarely white, 14-18 mm; ovules 10-14 per ovary; stems 1-3 dm; rhizomal leaves simple.
C. pachystigma
14. Petiole of cauline leaves basally auriculate
→ 15
14. Petiole of cauline leaves not basally auriculate
→ 16
15. Cauline leaves 3-foliolate; perennials (rhizomatous).
C. clematitis
15. Cauline leaves (9-)13-25-foliolate; annuals or biennials.
C. impatiens
16. Annuals or biennials, not rhizomatous
→ 17
16. Perennials, rhizomatous
→ 22
17. Rachises strongly flexuous to geniculate; petals 6-8 mm; fruits (2.5-)3-4.6 × 1.7-2.1 mm.
C. macrocarpa
17. Rachises not flexuous (slightly so in C. flexuosa); petals 1.5-4(-5) mm; fruits (0.5-) 1-2.5(-3.2) × 0.6-1.5 mm
→ 18
18. Basal leaves rosulate, persistent to anthesis
→ 19
18. Basal leaves not rosulate, often withered by anthesis
→ 20
19. Stamens usually 4, rarely 5 or 6; fruiting pedicels erect to ascending; fruitsoften appressed to rachis, valves glabrous; seeds narrowly margined.
C. hirsuta
19. Stamens 6; fruiting pedicels divaricate-ascending; fruits often not appressed to rachis, valves sparsely pubescent or glabrous; seeds often not margined (wingless).
C. oligosperma
20. Lateral leaflets of cauline leaves narrowly oblong, linear or filiform, 1-3 mm wide; fruits 0.6-0.9 mm wide.
C. parviflora
20. Lateral leaflets of cauline leaves orbicular, ovate, elliptic, or oblong, 4-25 mm wide; fruits 0.8-1.5 mm wide
→ 21
21. Rachises slightly flexuous; ovules 18-40 per ovary; plants of waste grounds, disturbed sites.
C. flexuosa
21. Rachises straight; ovules 40-80 per ovary; plants of margins of wet habitats.
C. pensylvanica
22. Rhizomes tuberiform, usually segmented, fragile (segments fusiform, ovoid, oblong, or globose)
→ 23
22. Rhizomes cylindrical, segments not fragile
→ 29
23. Cauline leaves biternate, distal lobes linear.
C. dissecta
23. Cauline leaves 3-11-foliolate, distal lobes not linear
→ 24
24. Cauline leaves 5-11-foliolate.
C. penduliflora
24. Cauline leaves usually 3-, sometimes 5-7-foliolate, rarely simple
→ 25
25. Rhizomes moniliform; e, c United States
→ 26
25. Rhizomes not moniliform; Pacific North America
→ 27
26. Cauline leaves different from rhizomal leaves, usually alternate, rarely opposite.
C. angustata
26. Cauline leaves similar to rhizomal leaves, usually whorled or opposite, rarely alternate.
C. concatenata
27. Middle cauline leaves 5- or 7-foliolate; sepals 1.7-2 mm; petals 4-6 mm.
C. occidentalis
27. Middle cauline leaves 3(-5)-foliolate; sepals 3.5-5.5 mm; petals 8-15 mm
→ 28
28. Cauline leaves 2-5; stems (2-)2.7-6(-7) dm; ovules 12-22 per ovary; petals white or pale rose; California.
C. californica
28. Cauline leaves 1-3; stems 0.5-2(-3) dm; ovules 8-16 per ovary; petals usually purple to pale pink, rarely white; British Columbia, California, Oregon, Washington.
C. nuttallii
29. Cauline leaves pinnatisect or (7-)9-21-foliolate
→ 30
29. Cauline leaves 3-5(-7)-foliolate
→ 31
30. Leaves thick, veins impressed.
C. nymanii
30. Leaves thin, veins raised.
C. pratensis
31. Rhizomes compact at stem base, stolons present.
C. flagellifera
31. Rhizomes slender, stolons absent
→ 32
32. Rhizomes fleshy, with dentate leaf scars; plants of North America east of the 110th meridian
→ 33
32. Rhizomes not fleshy, without dentate leaf scars; plants of North America west of the 110th meridian
→ 34
33. Rhizomes somewhat uniform in diameter; cauline leaves (sub) opposite.
C. diphylla
33. Rhizomes not uniform in diameter (distinctly constricted at intervals); cauline leaves usually alternate, rarely subopposite.
C. maxima
34. Plants cespitose, hirsute; petals purple or pink, rarely white.
C. purpurea
34. Plants not cespitose, glabrous or sparsely pubescent or pilose; petals usually white, rarely pink
→ 35
35. Basal leaves rosulate; fruiting racemes subumbellate.
C. umbellata
35. Basal leaves absent; fruiting racemes not subumbellate
→ 36
36. Sepals 1.2-1.5 mm; petals 2-2.5 × 0.8-1 mm; anthers 0.2-0.3 mm.
C. holmgrenii
36. Sepals 2-5 mm; petals 3.5-15 × 1.5-8 mm; anthers 0.7-1.5 mm
→ 37
37. Rhizomal leaves absent; ovules 14-28 per ovary.
C. breweri
37. Rhizomal leaves present; ovules 6-16(-24) per ovary
→ 38
38. Stems hirsute at base; cauline leaves (3 or) 4-8.
C. angulata
38. Stems usually glabrous at base, rarely sparsely pilose; cauline leaves 1-3 (or 4)
→ 39
39. Rhizomal leaves palmately or subpalmately compound, fleshy; Montana.
C. rupicola
39. Rhizomal leaves pinnately compound, not fleshy; Alaska, Northwest Territories, Yukon
→ 40
40. Rhizomal leaves with terminal leaflet blade broadly obovateto suborbicular, margins often 3-5-toothed.
C. blaisdellii
40. Rhizomal leaves with terminal leaflet blade linear, narrowly oblong, narrowly oblanceolate, ovate, or elliptic, margins entire
→ 41
41. Cauline leaves with terminal leaflet narrowly lanceolate to linear, 1-3.2(-4) cm.
C. digitata
41. Cauline leaves with terminal leaflet ovate to elliptic, 0.6-1.3 cm.
C. microphylla
Source FNA vol. 7, p. 474. FNA vol. 7, p. 464. Authors: Ihsan A. Al-Shehbaz, Karol Marhold, Judita Lihová.
Parent taxa Brassicaceae > tribe Cardamineae > Cardamine Brassicaceae > tribe Cardamineae
Sibling taxa
C. angulata, C. angustata, C. bellidifolia, C. blaisdellii, C. breweri, C. bulbosa, C. californica, C. clematitis, C. concatenata, C. constancei, C. cordifolia, C. digitata, C. diphylla, C. dissecta, C. douglassii, C. flagellifera, C. hirsuta, C. holmgrenii, C. impatiens, C. longii, C. macrocarpa, C. maxima, C. micranthera, C. microphylla, C. nuttallii, C. nymanii, C. occidentalis, C. oligosperma, C. pachystigma, C. parviflora, C. pattersonii, C. penduliflora, C. pensylvanica, C. pratensis, C. purpurea, C. rotundifolia, C. rupicola, C. umbellata
Subordinate taxa
C. angulata, C. angustata, C. bellidifolia, C. blaisdellii, C. breweri, C. bulbosa, C. californica, C. clematitis, C. concatenata, C. constancei, C. cordifolia, C. digitata, C. diphylla, C. dissecta, C. douglassii, C. flagellifera, C. flexuosa, C. hirsuta, C. holmgrenii, C. impatiens, C. longii, C. macrocarpa, C. maxima, C. micranthera, C. microphylla, C. nuttallii, C. nymanii, C. occidentalis, C. oligosperma, C. pachystigma, C. parviflora, C. pattersonii, C. penduliflora, C. pensylvanica, C. pratensis, C. purpurea, C. rotundifolia, C. rupicola, C. umbellata
Synonyms C. flexuosa subsp. debilis, C. flexuosa var. debilis, C. hirsuta subsp. flexuosa, C. scutata subsp. flexuosa Dentaria, Dracamine, Loxostemon
Name authority Withering: Arr. Brit. Pl. ed. 3, 3: 578. (1796) Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 2: 654. (1753): Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 295. (1754)
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