Cardamine flexuosa   Wavy Bittercress CCC D N

Cardamine flexuosa whole Cardamine flexuosa close

This is a very common weed of the paths and gardens but not at all easy to distinguish from its close relative C. hirsuta. The leaves look the same, the flowers look the same, both plants are very variable in height, although C. flexuosa can be much taller.

The distinguishing feature is the number of stamens. In C flexuosa it is usually six (four large and two small often hiding) but can also be five and in C. hirsuta it is usually four but infuriatingly, can also be five.

So if you find a plant where each flower has five stamens then tough, you can't identify it. As for photos, they'll often look much the same because the stamens can only be seen with a 10 x hand lens but with modern macro lenses you can now see the necessary detail. The LHS plant had 5 stamens on one flower and six (four big two little) on another but on the RHS plant you can make out six stamens.

This plant is found throughout the British Isles and Ireland.

LHS: Garden, Cheshire, 11th September 2004 RHS: Warburton Wood 14th June 2006

Added on September 12th 2004, amended December 27th 2004, updated 20th November 2008, updated 10th March 2010

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