Arabidopsis lyrata (Lyre-leaved Rock Cress)

Plant Info
Also known as: Lyrate Rockcress, Sand Cress, Harp-leaf Rockcress
Family:Brassicaceae (Mustard)
Life cycle:biennial, short-lived perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry sandy or rocky soil; dunes, cliffs, prairies, open woods
Bloom season:April - August
Plant height:4 to 15 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

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

[photo of flowers] Loose, elongating clusters of stalked flowers at the ends of branching stems. Flowers are ¼ to ½ inch across with 4 rounded white petals and 6 yellow stamens. The 4 sepals behind the flower are half as long as the petals or less.

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

[photo of basal leaves] Leaves are mostly basal, with a few leaves widely spaced along the stem. Basal leaves are up to 2 inches long, covered in short stiff hairs with a large lobe at the tip and usually at least one pair of short, oblong lateral lobes, and a short stalk. The basal leaves typically wither away by flowering time.

[photo of stem leaves] Stem leaves are about 1 inch long, linear-elliptic to narrowly spatula shaped, mostly toothless, hairless, stalkless, and widely spaced on the stem. Stems are hairless in the upper plant and usually hairy to some degree near the base. Multiple stems may arise from the base, erect, or prostrate but rising near the tip (decumbent).

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a slender pod about 1 inch long, held at about the same angle as the associated flower stalk, pointing upward. The pods become flattened as they ripen,


Lyre-leaved Rock Cress, formerly Arabis lyrata, can be seen (among other places) along the St. Croix River, seemingly growing out of the solid rock of the cliff face along the river. It resembles Mouse-ear Cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), which has smaller flowers, broader stem leaves, unlobed basal leaves, has a preference for disturbed soil, and is more likely to colonize than Lyre-leaved Rock Cress. Flora of North America recognizes 3 subspecies, with subsp. lyrata found in Minnesota, the other 2 found farther north and west in North America as well as in northern Europe and Asia.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Spangle Creek Labs - Native orchids, lab propagated
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Landscape Alternatives
  • ReWild Native Gardens

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at William O'Brien State Park in Washington County, Vermillion Falls and Pine Bend SNA in Dakota County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Washington County.


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

Posted by: Brian - Chimney Rock SNA
on: 2016-04-30 22:26:07

This species is at peak bloom right now at Chimney Rock Scientific and Natural Area in Dakota County. I was there today. There are some beautiful displays both on the outcrops and in the sandy areas.

Posted by: Brian O'Brien - Wabasha County Road 68
on: 2021-05-10 10:52:36

I found this species in bloom on a boulder on the east side of the road about three miles south of the US 63/CR 68 junction on May 8, 2021. CR 68 runs along the Cannon River just south of Zumbro Falls.

Posted by: Marcie O'Connor - Buffalo County, Wisconsin
on: 2022-05-08 14:43:48

I have a comment about the leaves: the basal leaves on our plants never wither away by flowering time. I was surprised to read that, so I've been checking, and all of our flowering plants still have a rosette of basal leaves. Here's one example: I love your site - thanks for doing it! Marcie

Posted by: luciearl - Fairview Twp, Cass County
on: 2022-05-27 06:27:31

This grows on my trail. Very sparse. One of the first blooming flowers I see, beginning in May.

Posted by: Jonathon - Hastings Sand Coulee SNA
on: 2023-05-17 09:52:27

Found quite a few blooming at the Hastings Sand Coulee SNA in mid May.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Iíd like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.