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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Jamie Fenneman     (Photo ID #6595)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Cardamine oligosperma
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend

Species Information

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

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

USDA Species Characteristics

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


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)
940 0 2107
Slope Gradient (%)
19 0 85

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

324 0 353
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 1 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
# 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)

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Cardamine oligosperma sensu lato
Cardamine oligosperma var. oligosperma Nutt.