Cardamine parviflora (Small-flowered Bittercress)

Plant Info
Also known as: Sand Bittercress, Dry-land Bittercress
Family:Brassicaceae (Mustard)
Life cycle:annual, biennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; roadsides, fields, dry woods, waste areas, rock outcrops, bluffs
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:4 to 12 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
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 of stalked flowers at the top of the stem and at the end of branching stems in the upper plant. Flowers are about 1/8 inch across with 4 rounded, erect to spreading white petals and 6 pale yellow stamens in the center. The 4 sepals behind the flower are green or tinged purple, mostly oblong, about half as long as the petals.

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

[photo of basal leaves] Leaves are compound, basal and lower stem leaves up to 4 inches long with 2 to 6 pairs of linear to oval leaflets and a terminal leaflet that is usually broader and more round. Basal leaves typically wither away by flowering time.

[photo of stem leaves] Upper stem leaves have narrower leaflets, the end leaflet similar in size as the lateral leaflets, sometimes slightly larger. Stems are green, sometimes purple near the base, hairless or hairy to varying degrees, unbranched except near the flowers. It can be leafy but often has a spindly appearance.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a slender pod up to ¾ inch long, erect to somewhat spreading, straight or slightly curved.


Small-flowered Bittercress is not very widespread in Minnesota, but appears to be expanding its range through the disturbance of human activity. We came upon a few plants near our campground at Banning State Park in Pine County. Since there was no record of it in Pine County, it was presumably transported there by other campers. Similar in appearance is Pennsylvania Bittercress (Cardamine pensylvanica), which is a larger plant, has end leaflets distinctly larger than the lateral leaflets, and is found in wet habitats, where Small-flowered Bittercress prefers a dry habitat.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken along the campground road at Banning State Park, Pine County.


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