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Springcress Cardamine hirsuta

Previously known as:

  • Arabis heterophylla
  • Cardamine angulata
  • Cardamine borbonica
Phonetic Spelling
kar-DA-mih-nee her-SOO-tuh
Description

Hairy Bittercress is a winter annual broadleaf weed and is a member of the Brassicaceae or mustard family. Other common names include Bittercress, Flick Weed, Hoary Bittercress, Lamb's Cress, Land Cress, Shot Weed, and Springcress. The genus name, Cardamine, is Greek for "Kardamon," and translated means "cress." The species name, hirsuta, is Latin and means"hairy." This is about the tiny hairs on its leaves and stems.

The plant is native to Europe and Asia. It has been introduced in most of all other continents including North America, South America, Africa, and Australia. Hairy Bittercress is typically one of the first weeds to appear in spring. It may be seen in lawns, parks, gardens, and paved areas. It is capable of growing year-round when suitable environmental conditions are met. The seeds germinate in the fall or winter. Typically they are dormant in cold weather, and they resume their growth in the spring and produce more seeds. It has a 12-week lifecycle. They can quickly invade sparsely planted lawns or poorly mulched gardens. It is commonly found in sunny, damp, or disturbed soil.

The stems are erect, branched, and 3-10 inches tall. The root is fibrous and shallow. In the spring, clusters of tiny white flowers emerge that have cross-shaped petals on the ends of the stem. The small green leaves are mostly on the lower portion of the stem and form a flat rosette. Tiny hairs are on the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves. The fruits appear between March and May. They are siliquas or long narrow seed pods rods standing upright around the flower. When they mature, seeds are dispersed up to several feet from the plant. Each plant may produce 600 to 1000 seeds. 

The weed may become invasive and is best controlled by prevention. Hand weeding and adequate mulching of garden beds are helpful. Frequent mowing in the early spring removes flowers before seeds develop. Selecting the correct turf grasses that can develop a dense ground cover is important. Proper fertilizing, mowing, and watering will encourage lawn growth and reduce weed establishment.  If these measures fail, various pre-emergent or post-emergent herbicides may be used.

Hairy Bittercress flowers and leaves are edible and valuable nutrients. Although the name suggests that they may taste bitter, they actually have a mild peppery taste.  A few sprigs may be added to salads, salsas, and pesto. The flowers are tougher to chew. 

These plants are a food source for spring azure (Celatrina ladon) and falcate orange-tip caterpillars (Anthocharis midea). Hairy bittercress may also host aphids, whiteflies, and mites. Bumblebees are attracted to Hairy Bittercress for nectar and pollen. The weed attracts bees in the spring when other flowers are sparse.  Early butterflies are also attracted to the tiny flowers.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#weed#edible weed#weedy#native bees#aggressive#annual weed#cool season weed#larval host plant#butterfly friendly#bee friendly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#weed#edible weed#weedy#native bees#aggressive#annual weed#cool season weed#larval host plant#butterfly friendly#bee friendly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cardamine
    Species:
    hirsuta
    Family:
    Brassicaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eurasia
    Distribution:
    North America: Eastern and Southern US, West coast of US, Western and Eastern Canada; South America: Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, Jamaica, Uruguay, and Venezuela; Western and Southern Australia, New Zealand; Japan; South Africa
    Wildlife Value:
    Butterflies and bees are attracted to flowers for nectar and pollen.
    Edibility:
    Hairy Bittercress is an edible weed that has a mild peppery taste. A few sprigs can be added to a salad to add a bite. The flowers are edible, but they are tough to chew. The tender leaves are sources of Vitamin C, Ca+, Mg+, and Beta-carotene.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 3 in. - 0 ft. 10 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 3 in. - 0 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Weed
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Spring
    Fruit Type:
    Siliqua
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits appear as smooth, purplish-green siliqua standing upright around the flower. They turn reddish-brown when they mature. They measure 3/4 to 1 inch long. When dried the pods explode and release seeds up to 3 feet. The seeds germinate in the fall. They overwinter n a vegetative state. In the spring they flower and produce more seeds. Reportedly, each plant can produce 600-1000 seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cross
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The blooms appear in clusters of white, tiny, 4 petaled, cross-shaped flowers. They typically bloom in spring from late April to early June.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Smooth
    Soft
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Reniform
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are reniform in shape, alternate, and pinnate with a terminal leaflet. They have 2-6 pairs of smaller lateral leaflets and a rosette of larger basal leaves. The surface of the leaves is glabrous to pubescent with tiny hairs on the upper and lower surface. They are green in color and measure less than 1/2 inch to 1 inch. The margins of the leaf are lobed and shallowly toothed.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    The stems are erect, branching, and measure 3-10 inches tall. Their surfaces are glabrous to sparsely hairy.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Slope/Bank
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Specialized Bees
    Problems:
    Weedy