Cardamine bulbosa (Spring Cress)

Plant Info
Also known as: Bulbous Bittercress
Family:Brassicaceae (Mustard)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist to wet; low woods, seeps, wet meadows, streambanks
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:8 to 24 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] Tightly packed to loose elongating cluster of white flowers on slender stalks at the top of the plant and arising from some leaf axils in the upper plant. Flowers are about ½ inch across, have 4 white petals with rounded tips, and 6 creamy white to pale yellow stamens in the center. The 4 sepals behind the flower are much shorter than the petals, are pale greenish white around the edges, and turn yellow with age.

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

[photo of basal leaves] There are both basal and stem leaves. Basal leaves are 1 to 2 inches long, oval, round or kidney shaped, hairless, on a stalk usually longer than the leaf blade. The edges may be toothed, scalloped, or toothless, and often wavy.

[photo of stem leaves] Stem leaves become less round, proportionately longer and narrower as they ascend the stem, the lower leaves short stalked, upper leaves stalkless and more generally oblong. Edges may be toothless or with a few irregular teeth, and are often wavy. Stems are hairless or sparsely hairy and mostly unbranched except near the flowers.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a slender flattened pod about 1 inch long, arranged mostly ascending to erect.


Spring Cress, formerly Cardamine rhomboidea, is fairly easy to identify from its roundish, unlobed basal leaves and narrowing stem leaves. The flowers are most similar to Cut-leaf Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), which has deeply lobed leaves, is a shorter plant, and primarily a woodland species. While Spring Cress is not an uncommon species, unless you like traipsing around mucky seeps and wetlands, it is not so likely to be encountered.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Battle Creek Regional Park, Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Pine Bend SNA, Dakota County, and in Ramsey and Goodhue counties.


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

Posted by: Gretchen - Olmsted County
on: 2017-06-01 16:43:48

Found near a spring on a western slope south and east of Rochester

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