Cardamine nuttallii

From Puget Prairie Plants
  • Scientific Name: Cardamine nuttallii
  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • Common Names: beautiful bittercres, Nuttall's toothwort, slender toothwort
  • Synonyms/Misapplications: Cardamine pulcherrima, Cardamine quercetorum, Dentaria tenella
  • Codon: CARNUT

Photo by Ben Legler, 2004. Also featured on Main Page


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Viridiplantae
Phylum: Tracheophyta
Subphylum: Spermatophytina
Class: Asterales
Order: Asterales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Cardamine L.
Species: Cardamine nuttallii Greene
  • Cardamine pulcherrima Greene
  • Cardamine gemmata Greene
  • Dentaria tenella Pursh
  • Dentaria gemmata (Greene) Howell



General: Glabrous to sparsely pubescent perennial from short, slender, fleshy rhizomes, the stems erect, 1-2 dm. tall. Leaves: Basal leaves long-petiolate, the blades orbicular to cordate, usually simple and scalloped, if deeply lobed the lobes entire; cauline leaves 1-3, grouped above mid-length on the stem, usually with 3-5 lanceolate, entire leaflets 1-4 cm. long. Flowers: Inflorescence of bractless, few-flowered racemes; pedicles ascending to erect, 1-2 cm. long; sepals 4, 3-5 mm. long, purplish, the outer pair saccate at the base; petals 4, pink to reddish or purplish, 9-14 mm. long; stamens 6; style slender, 3-6 mm. long. Fruit: Siliques linear, 1.5-5 cm. long and 1.5 mm. broad; seeds in 1 series.[2]

Bloom Period



Washington to California, chiefly west of the Cascades.[3]


Ecological Setting-Dry ground, low to moderate elevations.[2]




Photo by Lisa Hintz

Seed sample from: 2007

Average Measurement: 1.75 x 1.1 x 0.7

Measurement range: L: 1.5 – 2.1, W: 1 – 1.3, D: 0.2 - 0.9


Shape: Seeds a variety of shapes, mostly slightly flattened ellipses, with the hilum to opposite apex being the longest measurement. Some seeds lenticular in shape.

Additional Structures: Cotyledons accumbent with sulcus present in some.

Color: Seeds golden brown with a tan or white hilum surrounded by a darker brown color.

Surface: Seeds are deeply wrinkled or pitted. Wrinkles commonly oriented longitudinally, but not always. Seeds slightly lustrous.

Latitudinal cross section: elliptical CANUlat.png

Longitudinal cross section: elliptical CANU.png

Basic Explanations and Assumptions:

The dimensions for the seeds are length x width x depth. The location of the hilum is used as the base of the seed, and the length is measured from hilum to the opposite apex. Where a style is present, the length is measured from the hilum to the bottom of the style. Width is measured at a right angle to the length at the widest part. Depth is measured at a right angle to the intersection of height and width lines.

Measurements included are the mean average for each measurement of ten separate seeds.

All measurements in millimeters unless otherwise noted.

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  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved from
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum, & University of Washington. Retrieved from
  3. WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum, & University of Washington. Retrieved from