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

Cardamine pensylvanica Muhl. ex Willd.
Pennsylvanian bitter-cress
Brassicaceae (Mustard family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #74438)

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Distribution of Cardamine pensylvanica
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Species Information

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Biennial or annual herb from a taproot, also some fibrous roots from the lower nodes; stems erect to ascending, one or more, freely branched, 10-40 cm tall, usually stiff-hairy at the base.
Basal and stem leaves pinnate, generally glabrous, lateral lobes (2) 4-10, shortly-stalked to stalked; basal leaves not rosetted, oblanceolate to egg-shaped, entire or shallowly lobed, 3-15 cm long, the terminal leaflet usually largest, up to 2 cm long; stem leaves linear or lanceolate to linear-oblanceolate.
Inflorescence an elongated racemes, more or less umbel-like, 3-10 cm long, usually lacking bracts; flower stalks ascending, 5-10 mm long; petals white, 2-4 mm long; sepals 1.2-1.8 mm long.
Siliques, erect, 1.5-2.5 cm long, 0.7-1 (1.5) mm wide, glabrous; styles 0.4-0.8 mm long; seeds (20) 24-40, about 1 mm long, usually wingless.

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

Moist streamsides, ditches, open woods and waste places in the lowland and montane zones; frequent throughout BC; E to NF and S to TX, FL and N CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Cardamine pensylvanica

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) 15 1106 2208
Slope Gradient (%) 0 9 80
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
8 3 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 5 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: AT(1), BAFA(1), BG(1), BWBS(1), CWH(8), ESSF(13), ICH(6), IDF(6), MH(1), MS(2), PP(1), SBPS(4), SBS(3), SWB(1)


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 montane boreal & cool temperate.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Cardamine pensylvanica var. brittoniana Farw.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References