Cardamine dentata Schult. - White Cuckoo Bitter-cress


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Cardamine dentata - (image 1 of 7)



Family: Brassicaceae


Synonymous with C. pratensis var. palustris Wimm & Grab.


Calcareous swamps, fens, shores.




Nova Scotia to Manitoba and Alberta, south to NJ, OH, northern IN, and MN. Also in Europe.


Erect annual to biennial herb to 50 cm; basal leaves with long petioles, pinnate compound with 3-8 rounded leaflets, primary veins of terminal leaflet ending in a callus region but not excurrent or scarcely excurrent as a semicircular tip; lower cauline leaves similar to the basal ones; upper cauline leaves shorter with more leaflets that are oblong to linear and petiolulate; petals white, obovate.


Flowers May to June

Wetland indicator: Obligate

Fernald (1920) discussed the similarity of our white cuckoo flower with what had been called at the time C. pratensis var. palustris in Europe. He described it as "an unquestionably indigenous plant with milk-white petals". Evidence seems to suggest that our native white cuckoo flower is equivalent to the C. dentata of northern Europe. The description of C. dentata from Poland (Wójcicki & Marhold 2000) seems to fit our white-flowered plants quite well. The terminal leaflet of the basal leaves are entire or more or less sinuate, while in C. pratensis the terminal leaflet is distinctly crenate or dentate with several teeth.


Fernald, M. L. 1920. Some variations of Cardamine pratensis in America. Rhodora, 22 (253):11–14.


Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Ed.
The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY

Wójcicki, J. J. & Marhold, K. 2000. Cardamine dentata (Brassicaceae) in Poland. Fragmenta Floristica et Geobotanica 45(1–2): 431–443.




 Michael Hough © 2018