Index- plants in this Family
Brassicaceae / Mustard
Purple Cress, Pink Spring Cress or Limestone Bittercress (Cardamine douglassii)
Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 30cm in height (12inches). The lower stem is hairy. From a shallow, white rhizome that becomes green if exposed.
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Most leaves have a few shallow lobes or sinuous margins. The basal leaves have petioles and are about as long as wide. The three to five stem leaves are clasping and the upper two are narrow, acute. The lower leaves are rounded and sometimes purple on the underside.
Flowers: The flowers have 4 Regular Parts and are up to 1.25cm long (0.5 inches). They are pinkish, purple sometimes white. Blooms first appear in early spring and continue into mid spring. The sepals are purple turning brown. The pedicels are longer than the flowers when fully developed.
Fruit: A silique to 2cm (0.8") long.
Habitat: Woods in moist, alluvial soil.
Range: Northeastern and Midwestern states at least as far south as north Georgia and South Carolina. Very scattered in the southern part of range.

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This is a northern species that extends just into our area in scattered locations usually near water. It is a plant to look for in very early spring. The Cardamine genus can be difficult to define and this species is no exception. The leaves vary a great deal and the flowers may be almost white or very pink.

Similar Species: This species sometimes hybridizes with the very similar Bulbous Bittercress (Cardamine bulbosa) which blooms a couple of weeks later, has white flowers (rarely pink), green sepals turning yellow, is taller and less hairy. It is less similar to other Bittercresses.

From a distance the flowers are very like Cut-leaved Toothwort, Cardamine laciniata which is blooming at the same time and much more common in our area.

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves


Bitter Cress

Welcome / Glossary / Books / Links / Feedback / Image use policy - Wildflowers of the Southeastern United States, Page updated on 3/23/2009 8:53:43 AM. (Viewed date from local machine.)
© 1999-2009 Daniel W. Reed
File date-25-Mar-09