Cardamine Species, Common Bittercress, Hairy Bittercress, Shotweed, Snapweed

Cardamine hirsuta

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



Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


under 6 in. (15 cm)

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)


6-9 in. (15-22 cm)


Not Applicable

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors 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

Princeton, North Carolina

Glouster, Ohio

Albany, Oregon

Hillsboro, Oregon

Millersburg, Oregon

Portland, Oregon(2 reports)

Salem, Oregon

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Rock Hill, South Carolina

Desoto, Texas

Sandy, Utah

Leesburg, Virginia

Artondale, Washington

Graham, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Seattle, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 12, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Even in the north, this winter annual weed grows and starts to go to seed in the winter. I weed this during winter thaws, especially in March.

This weed most commonly rides into gardens on the rootballs of commercially container-grown plants, annuals and perennials, and on nursery stock. It's a very common pest of commercial greenhouses. I find most of the annuals I buy are infested.

After weeding, a 2" layer of new mulch or compost will help prevent the germination of weeds where there are seeds in the soil.

I make sure I scrape the surface of any rootballs I'm planting and put the scrapings into the trash (not compost) before I plant my new purchases in the garden. That helps to prevent the introduction of seeds and new weeds. It isn't foolpro... read more


On Aug 11, 2016, MauriceAlbert from Melbourne,
Australia wrote:

Snap weed, as we call it Australia, certainly has all the charateristics as stated by other previous contributors.

I have considered how it eventually found itself growing in two properties I've owned - where it was not initially found. And the only way I figure it got to be growing in my lawns was due to commercial lawn-mowing guys bringing it in from the previous other customers they've been too ( where it is growing and in seed), getting caught up in equipment and later deposited on my lawns.

The seeds are very tiny and lite in weight.

Other than mowing your own lawns with your own equipment, insist the commercial operators have thoroughly water hosed-out their mowers away from your property PRIOR to arriving at your property. For me, I am ... read more


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


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.!!!


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 def... read more


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.


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!


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..."


On May 2, 2005, Sherlock_Holmes from Rife, 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 a... read more


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.


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.