Boechera dentata (Toothed Rock Cress)

Plant Info
Also known as: Short's Rock Cress, Stellate Rock Cress
Family:Brassicaceae (Mustard)
Life cycle:biennial
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; rich woods, floodplains, bluffs
Bloom season:April - May
Plant height:8 to 20 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: UPL NCNE: UPL
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 raceme of tiny stalked flowers at the top of the plant and sometimes arising from leaf axils in the upper plant. The top of the cluster is tightly packed with buds while several open flowers are more widely spaced below it. Flowers are about 1/8 inch long with 4 white petals and 6 yellow-tipped stamens. Surrounding the flower are 4 erect green sepals nearly as long as the petals.

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

[photo of stem leaves] Stem leaves are up to 2 inches long, to ¾ inch wide, mostly oblong, hairy to varying degrees, irregularly toothed, stalkless to clasping, with a blunt to pointed tip and usually a pair of lobes at the base (auricles), alternately attached and widely spaced on the stem.

[photo of basal leaves] Basal leaves are more round to oval, tapering at the base to a stalk up to 1½ inches long. Stems are hairy, green or tinged purple, erect or prostrate but rising at the tip (decumbent); 2 to several stems may arise from or near the base.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a slender pod up to 1½ inches long, spreading to ascending.


Toothed Rock Cress, commonly called Short's Rock Cress, was formerly known as Arabis shortii or Arabis dentata, Its small clusters of tiny flowers, widely spaced stem leaves and spreading pods make it fairly easy to identify. While Smooth Rock Cress (Boechera laevigata) also has sepals nearly as long as the petals and auricled stem leaves, its flowers are larger and stem leaves longer and more linear.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Goodhue and Olmsted counties.


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