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Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) foliage


Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) has unique foliage that makes it is easy to identify among other container weeds.  The leaflets on the foliage have a club shape, evident here on even small seedlings.  Leaves of bittercress seedlings are often simple, while leaves that develop later are generally compound.



Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) foliage


Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) foliage

Bittercress leaves are pinnately compound, with each leaflet having 3 to 5 obtuse lobes.  Each leaf generally has 4 to 8 leaflets alternately arranged along the rachis.

Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) foliage

The image above is typical of lower foliage, or foliage that makes up the rosette.  The image below is more typical of foliage that emerges higher up the stems and closer to flowers.  Foliage higher on the stem has the same pattern of lobes, however, the leaflets are longer and more narrow compared to foliage of the rosettes.

Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) foliage

Hairy bittercress gets its name from the fact that the stem and foliage are pubescent (or hairy).  However, in my experience, the hairs are difficult to see with the naked eye.  But if you look closely, you can see them, particularly on the stem.  The image below (when enlarged) shows the small hairs fairly clearly.

Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) foliage

It is my experience that Little Western bittercress (Cardamine oligosperma) is often confused with hairy bittercress.  In talking with a plant taxonomist, I learned that the difference between C. hirsuta and C. oligiosperma is in the size of the seed, and this is the only way to distinguish the two.  Suffice it to say that they are very similar in appearance, and that control (cultural and herbicidal) for one species will be the same for the other.




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