Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Bulbous Bittercress - Cardamine bulbosa   (Schreber ex Muhlenberg) Britton, Sterns, & Poggenburg
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Section 6 » Order Capparales » Family Brassicaceae
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Author(Schreber ex Muhlenberg) Britton, Sterns, & Poggenburg
DistributionPresent mainly in the northeastern Piedmont and the western and central Coastal Plain. There are a few records for the northern mountains, but absent over most of the mountains and Piedmont, the Sandhills region, and eastern parts of the Coastal Plain.

This species is present over the Eastern US and adjacent Canada. It ranges south to central FL and eastern TX, yet has large gaps in the range from eastern KY to western NC and into GA. However, it is present over nearly all of VA.
AbundanceUncommon and somewhat local in the northeastern Piedmont and the adjacent northwestern Coastal Plain; rare in the southeastern Coastal Plain, and in the northern mountains.
HabitatThis is a species of wetland forests, often in slightly standing water. It grows in wetter spots within bottomlands, rich-soil swamps, and near floodplain pools. It grows mostly in circumneutral soil, or in brownwater river floodplains with a rich sediment load.
PhenologyBlooms from March to May, and fruits in April and May.
IdentificationThis is a somewhat robust and smooth herb, growing to about 2' tall. It and C. douglassii are quite similar, and both has several distinctive (from all other species) basal leaves, with long petioles to about 3" and rounded blades with angled borders (not smoothly rounded) that are about 1-1.5" across. There are usually 5-6 stem leaves in this species, elliptic to lanceolate, serrate and sessile, and about 1-2" long. The top 4-6" of the stem contains the conspicuous flower cluster, where a handful of white flowers bloom at a given time; each has 4 petals and the flower spread is about 3/4" across or long. C. douglassii has lavender to pink flowers, a shorter stem with fewer stem leaves, and has the lower portion of the stem somewhat pubescent. This is a striking species when a colony is found in bloom; sadly, it is generally uncommon and usually is a good find.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Spring Cress, Bulbous Cress
State RankS3
Global RankG5
State StatusW6
US Status
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