Perennials; glabrous or sparsely pubescent distally. Rhizomes (tuberous at stem base, sometimes also at intervals) subglobose, lobed, 4-15 mm diam. (fleshy). Stems erect, unbranched, (1-)2-6 dm, glabrous or sparsely pubescent on distal 1/2 (trichomes 0.02-0.1 mm). Rhizomal leaves simple, (2-)4-13(-16) cm; petiole (1.5-)2.5-10(-13) cm; blade usually reniform to cordate or ovate, rarely oblong, (1-)2-4(-6) cm, base obtuse to cordate, margins usually repand or entire, rarely shallowly dentate. Cauline leaves (2-)4-10 (-14), simple, petiolate or sessile; (middle ones) shortly petiolate or (distally) sessile, base not auriculate; blade ovate to oblong, or oblong-linear to lanceolate, 3-6(-9) cm × 10-30(-45) mm, margins entire, repand, or dentate (margins minutely pubescent). Racemes ebracteate. Fruiting pedicels ascending to divaricate, (10-)15-22 (-30) mm. Flowers: sepals oblong, 2.5-4.5 × 1.5-2 mm, lateral pair not saccate basally, (glabrous); petals usually white, rarely pale pink, obovate, (6-)7-12(-16) × 3-5 mm, (short-clawed, apex rounded); filaments: median pairs 4.5-7 mm, lateral pair 2-3.5 mm; anthers oblong, 1-1.5 mm. Fruits linear, 2-3.5(-4) cm × 1.4-1.7 mm; ovules 14-24 per ovary; style 2-4(-5) mm. Seeds dark orange to greenish yellow, oblong or globose, 1.7-2.1 × 1-1.4 mm. 2n = 16, 56, 64, 80, 96, 112. Flowering Mar-Jun. Wet grounds, low woodland, moss hummocks, alluvial woods, grassy floodplains, wet pastures, meadows, pinelands, creek bottoms, stream banks, sandy bottoms, ditches, mesic or wet forests, swamps, marshes, seepy bluffs; 0-900 m; Man., Ont., Que.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.
Perennial herb 20 cm - 0.6 m tall Stem: upright, branched or unbranched, green, purplish near base, mostly hairless. Flowers: in rounded, branched clusters, white, 7 mm - 1.5 cm wide. Sepals four, green, turning yellowish with age. Petals four, much longer than sepals. Stamens six. Fruit: a narrow pod, upright, ascending to diverging, 1.5 - 2.5 cm long, lance-shaped, somewhat flattened, with a 2 - 4.5 mm beak. Rhizome: short, stout, tuber-like, barely subterranean. Lower leaves: alternate, long-stalked (purplish), 2.5 - 5 cm long, 2.5 - 3 cm wide, oval to egg-shaped to roundish, base tapering to truncate (cut straight across), slightly wavy along the margins, sometimes hairy. These leaves usually fall off before the plant begins to flower. Upper leaves: alternate, mostly stalkless, smaller than basal leaves, oblong to lance-shaped, sometimes coarsely toothed, sometimes hairy.
Similar species: The similar Cardamine pratensis and C. pratensis var. palustris differ by having pinnately divided leaves. Cardamine douglassii differs by having mainly hairy stems, pink or purple-tinged flowers, and sepals that turn purplish. Also, the blooming period of C. douglassii ends by mid-May. Other Cardamine species will have petals less than 7 mm long.
Flowering: mid-April to late June
Habitat and ecology: Typical of calcareous fens, but also found in moist woods and floodplains. Also grows along roads, rivers, creeks, and other wet areas.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Etymology: Cardamine comes from the Greek word kardamon, which refers to plants in the cress family. Bulbosa means bulbous.
Author: The Morton Arboretum