Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Pennsylvania Bittercress - Cardamine pensylvanica   Muhlenberg ex Willdenow
Members of Brassicaceae:
Members of Cardamine with account distribution info or public map:
Google Images
Section 6 » Order Capparales » Family Brassicaceae
Show/Hide Synonym
AuthorMuhlenberg ex Willdenow
DistributionEssentially statewide, but with scattered holes in the range; no records known for most far northeastern counties, and many holes in the central and western Piedmont.

This is a very wide-ranging species, occurring over most of the U.S.
AbundanceFairly common over the state as a whole, but uncommon or infrequent in much of the central and western Piedmont, and in the northeastern counties of the Coastal Plain. As it has been recorded from at least 70 counties, the website editors feel that a State Rank of S5 is justified.
HabitatThis is a wetland species, usually in shaded places. It grows in wet spots along wooded creeks, swampy depressions, seepages, wooded pools and edges, and other similar habitats.
PhenologyBlooms from March to May, and fruits soon after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a moderately tall herb -- tall for a Cardamine -- that reaches 1.5-2 feet tall, with an erect stem that is a bit succulent and thick. It has a few small basal leaves, pinnately divided, with the terminal one larger and rounded. The scattered alternate stem leaves are also pinnately divided and quite a bit larger, about 2-3 inches long, with the terminal leaflet ovate in shape but the several pairs of lateral leaflets quite narrow. The flower cluster at the top of the stem has a number of small white flowers, each with 4 petals but only about 1/6-inch across. The most similar species is C. parviflora, normally a much smaller species. Its terminal leaflets are very narrow, about as narrow as lateral leaflets, and it has slender stem. To find this species, you need to walk along wooded creeks or seeps in the spring, and look for erect plants with numerous pinnately-divided stem leaves and small white flowers or narrow siliques at the end of the stem. C. flexuosa may be confused with pensylvanica; see Weakley for a key.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Quaker Bittercress
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFACW link
USACE-empOBL link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Select a source
Select an occurrence type