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Cardamine diphylla is often confused with:
Cardamine concatenata Cardamine concatenata
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Viola pubescens Form
Viola striata Viola striata
Viola canadensis Viola canadensis

Twin-leaved Toothwort Cardamine diphylla

Previously known as:

  • Dentaria bifolia
  • Dentaria diphylla
  • Dentaria incisa
Phonetic Spelling
kar-DA-mih-nee dy-FIL-uh
Description

The Two-leaf Toothwort is a native perennial in the USA and Eastern Canada. It typically grows in rich, moist, slightly acidic soils in woodlands or shaded meadows. This plant cannot tolerate deep shade cast by evergreen trees. The plant is an attractive groundcover in the autumn and winter. It is dormant in the summer and spreads via rhizomes. It makes a good groundcover under Cornus florida.

It is a member of the Brassicaceae or the mustard family and was formerly of the genus, Dentaria. The current genus is Cardamine. The name is derived from the Greek word, "Kardamon," which refers to cress in the Mustard family. The species name, diphylla, is Greek referring to "two-leaved." Toothwort refers to the rootstalk. 

In the spring the plant emerges upright measuring 8-16 inches tall with paired leaves that have coarsely toothed margins. The loose cluster of white or light pink flowers appears at the end of the stem from mid-April to mid-May. Pods or siliqua appear and open 4-5 weeks after blooming. Mature pods split open and release their seeds. The seedlings may take up to 3-4 years before they bloom. The seeds have low viability in storage, therefore the seed should be sown immediately after collection.  A moist, shaded seedbed is required. It may be best to multiply this plant by rootstock division, preferably when the plant is dormant. Care should be taken because the rhizomes are easily damaged or broken.

The Two-leafed Toothwort is similar to Cardamine concatenata or Cut-leaved Toothwort. The stems leaves of the Cut-leaved Toothwort differ because they appear in a whorl. 

The leaves and roots of the Two-leaf Toothwort can be eaten both raw or cooked.   

The West Virginia white butterfly uses the plant to lay its eggs. It is also the host plant for the falcate orange -tip butterfly. Flea beetles feed on their foliage. Specialized bees known as Andrena arabis collect pollen from Cardamines.

 

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'American Sweetheart'
    Dark drab olive leaves with silver veins and purple back
'American Sweetheart'
Tags:
#edible plant#native perennial#specialized bees#NC native#rich soil#groundcover#forests#larval host plant#food source pollen#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#flowers#woodlands#dormant summer
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'American Sweetheart'
    Dark drab olive leaves with silver veins and purple back
'American Sweetheart'
Tags:
#edible plant#native perennial#specialized bees#NC native#rich soil#groundcover#forests#larval host plant#food source pollen#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#flowers#woodlands#dormant summer
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cardamine
    Species:
    diphylla
    Family:
    Brassicaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Cherokee Indians made a poultice of roots to treat headaches. They also used raw or boiled stems and leaves as vegetables. Reportedly, the Iroquois Indians used the rhizome to make an infusion for the treatment of tuberculosis.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern Canada and U.S.A.
    Distribution:
    Native to the USA: AL, AR, CT, GA, IN, KY, MA, ME, MI, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, VT, WI; Native to the Provinces of Canada: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec; Introduced in the USA: IL;
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees collect pollen. Flea beetles feed on foliage. It is the host plant for the West Virginia white butterfly and falcate orange-tip butterfly.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Edibility:
    The roots may be eaten raw or cooked. When fresh, they have a hot and peppery taste. They may be used in salads or as a relish. The leaves may be added to salads or soups. The plant is a source of Vitamin C.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 8 in. - 1 ft. 4 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 9 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Cream/Tan
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Siliqua
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Mature flowers may produce narrow, long erect, dry pods or siliqua. This species rarely produces seeds, but when it does, oblong brown seeds are dispersed when the pod splits open.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cross
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    A delicate loose cluster of white or light pink blooms appears from mid-April to mid-May. The flowers are usually less than 2/3 inches wide. Each flower has four green, oblong sepals with obtuse tips. The four white or light pink petals have rounded tips and are longer than the sepals. There are six white stamens. The anthers are yellowish-green. The flowers are located at the end of a stem that rises above the leaves.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    There are basal and stem leaves. The stem has two leaf stalks that opposite of each other or just slightly offset, thus the name "two-leaved." The stem leaves have three leaflets. The leaves are elliptic to ovate in shape and have coarse dentated margins. The basal leaves are similar to the stem leaves, but they arise from the rootstock generally after the plant flowers.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The stalk of the flower and individual flower stalks are green to reddish in color with fine hairs.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Rock Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies