Rorippa palustris (Bog Yellow-cress)

Plant Info
Also known as: Marsh Yellow Cress
Family:Brassicaceae (Mustard)
Life cycle:annual, short-lived perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; wet ditches, wet meadows, along shores, swamps, mud flats
Bloom season:May - September
Plant height:12 to 40 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 4-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Elongating clusters at the end of branching stems and arising from the leaf axils, with a small compact flower head at the tip and fruit developing below it. Flowers are less than ¼ inch across with 4 yellow spatula-shaped petals about 2 mm long alternating with 4 yellowish-green oblong sepals that are about as long as the petals. 6 yellow stamens and a stout style are in the center

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of lower leaves] Leaves are somewhat variable, 2½ to 8 inches (6 to 20+ cm) long, lance-oblong to egg-shaped in outline, coarsely toothed and may be hairy or hairless. Basal leaves are stalked; basal and lower leaves usually have a few to several deep, narrow lobes and a large lobe at the tip end. Stem leaves become smaller, less lobed, and stalkless or nearly so in the upper plant. Stems are erect to ascending, usually branched in the upper plant, green or tinged red, hairy or hairless.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a cylindrical pod up to about 3/8 inch (3 to 10 mm) long, straight to slightly curved, bulging with the developing seed, and the remains of the style persisting at the tip. The stalks are held straight out, with the pod usually angled up slightly.


There are 2 subspecies of Bog Yellow-cress found in Minnesota: subsp. hispida, with hairy leaves and stems, and subsp. palustris, which is hairless throughout. While the flowers are similar to some Descurainia (tansy mustard) species, their finely divided, more feathery leaves and slender, longer pods are different enough to distinguish them from Bog Yellow-cress.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey, Scott and Stearns counties. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Dakota counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Gary - Cook County
on: 2019-11-14 15:00:24

In an old beaver meadow near the edge of what was left of the pond.

Posted by: Pat - Eden Prairie
on: 2020-06-26 19:30:12

I had some of this pop up in one of my gardens this year.

Posted by: Donna - Hibbing
on: 2020-07-23 11:13:22

I had a few of these pop up in my garden!

Posted by: Andy - Minneapolis
on: 2023-05-16 06:45:53

These come up every year with the ferns. I've always pulled them out, but it turns out they're definitely Bog Yellow-cress. Everything is an exact match, so I'll stop pulling them out. My yard is somewhat sandy soil, so I'm continually surprised at all the water-loving native plants that keep popping up. There is a lot of shade though, so that may be why. Pre-city, my yard was mostly creek shore, so maybe these water-loving plants have somehow stuck around since then.

Posted by: MarthaB - Northeast St Paul
on: 2023-06-06 15:51:19

In my garden, one last year and several more this year. Sun+shade, not very wet, but it seems to be R. palustris

Posted by: Michael Larsen - Winona County ridgetop overlooking Whitewater State Park
on: 2024-06-19 17:57:22

Five in our human constructed pond in a very wet zone between cattails and Reed Canary grass near blue flag iris So happy your website helped us identify.

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