Slender Toothwort

There are several varieties of slender toothwort (Cardamine nuttallii). The habitat of this native perennial is the humus soils in moist sites and open forests at low to mid elevations. California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are where this member of the Mustard Family is found. Slender toothwort grows from 2 to 8 inches in height.

The upright, hairless, slender, undivided stem has two or three upper leaves. Each leaf is divided into three to five lobes with pointed tips. The flowers are located in clusters at the tip of the stem. The pedicels (flower stalks) are long and erect. The four purplish sepals surround four pale pink to purple flowers (rarely white).  Two of the six stamens are shorter than the other four. The seeds are enclosed in long, narrow seedpods (sliiques).

As I mentioned, there are several varieties of C. nuttallii. Many have entire or shallowly lobed leaves. This specimen is, I believe, Cardamine nuttallii var. nuttallii. Previously this variety was known as C. pulcherrima. Slender toothwort is also commonly Known as Nuttall’s toothwort, oak toothwort and palmate toothwort, among other names.

Cardamine, the genus name, is from the Greek “kardamon” which means “watercress”. Kardamon comes from “kardia” (heart) and “damao” (sedative). Some members of the Cardamine genus  were once used for heart problems.

This lovely little spring wildflower was growing along the road circling Howard Prairie Lake (Oregon) near the south side of the lake.

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