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



Perennial, rhizomatous herb with erect stems to 2 dm tall, glabrous to slightly haired.[2] Basal leaves simple to 3-foliate,[3] long-petiolate, round to cordate, scalloped.[2] Cauline leaves 3-foliate, 1-3.[3] Inflorescences racemose, ebractate.[4] Flowers regular, 4-merous; sepals 4, outer pair basally saccate;[2] petals 4, pink, spatulate;[5] stamens 6, tetradynamous;[2] ovary superior, becoming linear siliques to 5 cm x 1.5 mm.[2]

Bloom Period



British Columbia to California, chiefly west of the Cascades.[4]


Vernally moist forest openings and understory.[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 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum, & University of Washington. Retrieved from
  3. 3.0 3.1 Flora of North America. Retrieved from
  4. 4.0 4.1 WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum, & University of Washington. Retrieved from
  5. Hitchcock, C. L., Cronquist, A., Giblin, D., & Legler, B. et al. (2018). Flora of the Pacific Northwest: an illustrated manual. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 293.