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

Cardamine nuttallii Greene
slender toothwort (beautiful bitter-cress; Nuttall's toothwort; palmate toothwort)
Brassicaceae (Mustard family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Deborah Freeman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #22460)

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Distribution of Cardamine nuttallii
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a short, slender, fleshy rhizome, less than 3 cm long and 1-3 (4) mm thick; stems erect, 20-30 cm tall, glabrous.
Basal leaves long-stalked, blades simple, orbicular to heart-shaped, shallowly round-toothed to lobed, sometimes deeply 3- or 5-lobed or compound with 3-5 (7) leaflets; stem leaves 1-3, grouped mostly above middle of stem, lobed, or compound with 3 or 5 lanceolate to egg-shaped-lanceolate, entire leaflets, 1-4 cm long.
Inflorescence a few-flowered racemes, without bracts; flowers stalks erect to ascending, 10-20 mm long; petals pink to reddish or purplish, 7-12 mm long; sepals 3-5 mm long.
Siliques, erect, 1.5-5 cm long, about 1.5 mm wide; styles slender, 3-6 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist woods and bottom lands in the lowland zone; common in SW BC, known from S Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and adjacent mainland of BC; S to N CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Cardamine nuttallii

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) 10 23 37
Slope Gradient (%) 0 0 0
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
5 5 5
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: CWH(2)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant, submontane to montane, Pacific North American forb; ecologically comparable to C. breweri. Occurs in maritime to hypermaritime cool mesothermal climates on very moist to wet, nitrogen-rich soils; its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation and continentality. Sporadic in closed-canopy forests on water-receiving sites; occasional in depressions on water-collecting sites with groundwater table at the ground surface. A nitrophytic species characteristic of Moder or Mull humus forms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


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 not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Cardamine nuttallii var. nuttallii Greene
Cardamine nuttallii var. pulcherrima (Greene) Taylor & MacBryde
Dentaria tenella Pursh
Dentaria tenella var. pulcherrima (Greene) Detling

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References