Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Hairy Bittercress, Common Bittercress, Snapweed, Shotweed
Cardamine hirsuta

Family: Brassicaceae (brass-ih-KAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cardamine (kar-DAM-ih-nee) (Info)
Species: hirsuta (her-SOO-tuh) (Info)


under 6 in. (15 cm)
6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 15 photos.
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3 positives
No neutrals
6 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative jagdoran On Apr 9, 2012, jagdoran from Pirkkala
Finland wrote:

I have been plagued with this noxious weed for six years or more. In another post, a reader suggested that it requires a rich loamasy soil. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have two bluestone drives where they flourish with abandon. I don't generally return from Fl. until after they set seed and I spend my first two weeks home on my knees and usually hand pick three large trash bags full. My son visited my property while they were in flower and sprayed with Roundup(3 gallons) so we'll see if that was effective.This was the last week of March on Cape Cod ,Ma.They got a good jump with the warm winter/spring.Good luck, Jagdoran

Negative enyeholt On Feb 22, 2010, enyeholt from Village of Port Clements
Canada wrote:

I have been asking around about this weed, as I have been fighting with it for over 30 years, and realized I don't have a name for it. Now I do, Thank you.

It's a survivor for sure, here on the Queen Charlotte Islands
B.C. Canada.

Pull it before it even thinks about setting seed.!!!

Negative Dodsky On Mar 12, 2008, Dodsky from Smiths Grove, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is one of those plants that once it gets a foothold in your yard it's nearly impossible to get rid of. The plant itself is relatively easy to pull out, but if you make the mistake of letting it go to seed it's most likely in your yard to stay. The seeds are produced very quickly and in mass quantities, plus they are easily disbursed by not only the shot-like effect of the mature seed pods bursting (seeds can be propelled several feet!), but they are so small they are easily picked up and moved to other areas by people, animals, wind, water, etc.

I've seen tiny plants no bigger than a quarter in diameter send up flowers that eventually produce lots of seeds even though you'd think the plant isn't big enough to flower, let alone produce pod after pod of seeds. It's definitely a survivor!

I have to admit the tiny white clusters of flowers are sort of cute, but their beauty begins to wane after I've had to pull endless numbers of the plants out of my flowerbeds.

Corn gluten meal is an effective pre-emergent and helps control this weed. Preen does the same thing, but I prefer using something less toxic like the corn gluten meal.

Negative Malus2006 On Feb 10, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Even thought I have not seen it in my yard, I have seen it in other location - this weed tend to prefer high organic soil - ie rich soil basically the soil is straight out black and clumpy. I have never seen it thrive in sandy soil with less % of organic soil. Vary from one location to another - can be rare in some location but a true weed in other locations.

Positive lunavox On Jun 12, 2006, lunavox from Seattle, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I also really like the taste of bittercress. To me it tastes like a combination of broccoli and mustard flavors. Yum!

Positive michelefitz On Nov 1, 2005, michelefitz from Cardiff
United Kingdom wrote:

I have found Hairy Bittercress is quite a nice tasting addition to a salad. Patrick Whitefield in his book "How to Make a Forest Garden" says "Despite it name, this little plant is not noticeably hairy and not at all bitter. It is in fact the best tasting of all the cresses, nutty, with just a hint of pepperiness..."

Positive Sherlock_Holmes On May 2, 2005, Sherlock_Holmes from Millersburg, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

Most people consider Hairy Bittercress to be a noxious weed. And in many ways it is. However, despite that negative point, I have found in a book, Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America, that there is something positive to note. The book states that Native Water-Cress (Cardamine pennsylvanica) is very similar to the market Water-Cress (Nasturtium officinale) and that other species of the Genus (Cardamine) doubtless have similar qualities of edibility. All three plants are in the Mustard Family (Brassicaceae).

I have taken the time to sample some of the leaves of Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) and have found them to be rather pleasant in taste. I agree with what I read on a webpage that calling it Bittercress is misleading because it doesn't taste bitter at all. I would just as readily add this plant to a spring salad as I would lettuce, spinach, or dandelion.

Those who find it to be noxious anyway, despite its possibility as a salad ingredient, can rest assured that it is rather easy to pull out of the soil. As for stopping it from propagating itself, that is a different story. :)

Negative melindamcwhite On Apr 23, 2005, melindamcwhite from Potomac, MD wrote:

This is a terrible weed that easily takes over a garden by flowering in late winter/early spring when the gardener is inside by a nice warm fire. If you see it, pull it out.

Negative melody On Mar 2, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

An invasive little weed that can take over cultivated fields.

It is a winter annual here in West KY with the tiny racemes producing flowers in January and Feburary. It produces small, rounded clumps 4" to 8" wide and reseeds with abandon.

The common names Snapweed and Shotweed refer to the way the seeds are propeled for great distances when the pods burst.

To make matters is a host plant for aphids.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Cullman, Alabama
Blytheville, Arkansas
Compton, Arkansas
Morrilton, Arkansas
Crescent City, California
Hinsdale, Illinois
Benton, Kentucky
Fedscreek, Kentucky
Melbourne, Kentucky
Smiths Grove, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Ellicott City, Maryland
Potomac, Maryland
Brockton, Massachusetts
Harwich, Massachusetts
Westford, Massachusetts
Mount Morris, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Marietta, Mississippi
Mount Holly, New Jersey
Henderson, North Carolina
Glouster, Ohio
Albany, Oregon
Hillsboro, Oregon
Portland, Oregon (2 reports)
Salem, Oregon
Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Desoto, Texas
Sandy, Utah
Leesburg, Virginia
Artondale, Washington
Olympia, Washington
Seattle, Washington

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