Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for American Bittercress - Cardamine rotundifolia   Michaux
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Section 6 » Order Capparales » Family Brassicaceae
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AuthorMichaux
DistributionScattered in the Mountains, mainly limited to the northern Mountains to Yancey County. Also reported from Stokes County in the upper Piedmont.

This is a Central Appalachian endemic, ranging from NY south to western NC and eastern TN, possibly to northern GA.
AbundanceUncommon in the northern Mountains, mainly in Alleghany, Ashe, and Watauga counties. Very rare to rare farther south in the Mountains, and into the northwestern Piedmont. This is a Significantly Rare species.
HabitatThis species grows in low woods, generally close to a forested creek margin, in seeps, swampy places, and on sand and gravel bars in creeks.
PhenologyBlooms in April and May, and fruits in May and June.
IdentificationThis is a very weak-stemmed species, usually lying along the ground or poorly ascending, and often rooting again from upper leaf nodes; it can reach 2 feet or more long. The numerous stem leaves are alternate, the lower with a short petiole, a rounded blade to about 1-inch long, and often a tiny pair of leaflets along the petiole. The middle and upper stem leaves are more sessile and often cordate with a clasping base. The flower cluster at the end of the stem and branches has a few flowers, each with 4 white petals, with a spread flower at least 1/2-inch across. Though it is generally quite distinctive in its mostly decumbent habit, you do not want to confuse it with the extremely rare and Federally listed C. micranthera. That species has smaller flowers, and its middle and upper stem leaves have petioles and are not cordate or clasping at the base; it does not form mats. If you see a "vine-like" plant trailing on the ground in a wet area in the mountains, with numerous rounded, alternate leaves, you may have found this scarce species.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Mountain Watercress, American Watercress
State RankS2
Global RankG4
State StatusSR-P
US Status
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