Caramine pensylvanica Muhl.

Cardamine pensylvanica plant

Family - Brassicaceae

Stems - To 30cm tall, erect, herbaceous, from a weak taproot, multiple from the base, green, purple in strong sun, branching, mostly glabrous but with a few retrorse or spreading hairs near the base, terete or angled.

Cardamine pensylvanica stemUpper stem.

Cardamine pensylvanica stemLower stem.

Leaves - Basal leaves few, no rosette present, alternate, petiolate. The largest leaves to +10cm long, 3cm broad, pinnate, with 2-3 pairs of lateral leaflets. Terminal leaflet broader than long on the lowest leaves and becoming more narrow in upper leaves, typically somewhat 3-lobed. All leaflets glabrous, with 3 main veins from the base of the blade (veins visible abaxially). Upper leaves with more lateral leaflets than lower leaves. Leaflets oblanceolate to oblong, entire or with 1-2 lobes, blunt at the tip or with a minute mucro.

Cardamine pensylvanica leaves

Inflorescence - Terminal raceme, compact in flower, quickly elongating in fruit, to +10cm long. Pedicels to 4mm long in flower, to 6mm long in fruit, ascending, glabrous. Axis of inflorescence glabrous.

Flowers - Petals 4, white, glabrous, spreading. Stamens 6, erect. Sepals 4, green, glabrous, with slightly scarious margins, to 1.7mm long, 1mm broad, cupped. Siliques to 2cm long, glabrous, terete, slightly beaked (the beak to 1mm long), many-seeded, elastically dehiscent, 2-valved, erect.

Cardamine pensylvanica flower

Flowering - March - July.

Habitat - Low wet woods, spring branches, base of moist bluffs.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This little species can be found mostly in the lower 2/3 of Missouri in the habitats mentioned above. This species nd another, C. parviflora L., can be difficult to distinguish. The two plants grow in different habitats. C. pensylvanica grows in moist to wet soils of low areas and C. parviflora prefers drier soils of upland areas. Both plants can be eaten raw or cooked as greens.

Photographs taken in Gainesville, FL., 2-16-03, and off Lee Rd 10, Lee County, AL., 3-2-06.