E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Cardamine oligosperma Nutt.
little western bitter-cress (alpine bitter-cress; Siberian bitter-cress)
Brassicaceae (Mustard family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #6595)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Cardamine oligosperma
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Species Information

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Annual or biennial (var. oligosperma) or perennial (var. kamtschatica) herb from a taproot; stems erect to ascending, one or more, freely branched, 10-50 cm tall, hairs short or lacking.
Basal leaves forming a rosette; stem leaves similar, pinnate, sparsely stiff-hairy to hairy-fringed to almost glabrous, lateral lobes (2) 3-10, shortly-stalked to stalked, oblanceolate to egg-shaped, entire or shallowly 2 to several times round-toothed or lobed, 3-20 mm long, the terminal leaflet usually larger, to 3 cm long.
Inflorescence an elongate racemes, more or less umbel-like, 3-10 cm long, generally lacking bracts; flower stalks erect to ascending, 5-20 mm long; petals white, 2-4 mm long; sepals 1-2 mm long.
Siliques, erect, 1.5-2.5 cm long, 1-1.5 mm wide, glabrous to sparsely hairy; styles less than 0.5 mm long; seeds 15-22 (24), 1.5-2 mm long, oblong-oval, narrowly wing-margined.
Two rather weak varieties occur in BC.

1. Racemes more or less umbel-like, the central axis 1-2 cm long; plants of the upper montane to alpine zones...................... var. kamtschatica (Regel) Detling

1. Racemes more elongate, the central axis greater than 3 cm long; plants of the lowland and lower montane zones............................ var. oligosperma

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Early Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Black
Present from Spring to Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Wet to mesic streamsides, ditches, waste places, roadsides, meadows, gravelly slopes and open woods in the lowland to alpine zones; var. oligosperma - common in S BC, less frequent northward, var. kamtschatica - frequent in coastal and N BC; var. oligosperma - S to MT and CA, var. kamtschatica - amphiberingian, N to AK, YT and NT, E to AB and S to OR; E. Asia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Cardamine oligosperma

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 940 2107
Slope Gradient (%) 0 19 85
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 324 353
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BAFA(6), BWBS(1), CDF(13), CWH(15), ESSF(14), ICH(12), IDF(2), MH(8), MS(3), PP(1), SBPS(2), SBS(7)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is cool temperate & cool mesothermal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Cardamine oligosperma sensu lato
Cardamine oligosperma var. oligosperma Nutt.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References