Information on Common Whitlowgrass

Common Name: Common Whitlowgrass
Scientific Name: Erophila verna
Irish Name: Bosán anagair
Family Group: Brassicaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


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Common Whitlowgrass is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


This is an early flowering plant and is also very easy to overlook, the flowers being quite tiny.  From February to June it can be found on dry banks, and bare, gravelly places.  It's a very small annual plant, only reaching about 20cm high, and it bears really small white flowers (3-6mm) each having four deeply cleft petals.  They are in loose racemes on stems which arise from the centre of a basal rosette.  The leaves are lanceolate and slightly toothed.  The seeds are held in oval flattened pods.  This is a native plant and belongs to the family Brassicaceae.

I first recorded this plant in Gibletstown, Co Wexford in March 2009 at which time I also photographed it.

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Whitlowgrass, Common
Whitlowgrass, Common

Culpeper's Complete Herbal gives this plant an alternative name of Nailwort and tells us that 'it is held to be exceedingly good for those imposthumes* in the joints and under the nails, which they call Whitlows, Felons, Andicorns and Nail-wheals'.   The plant was carried to North America by the first British settlers where it was found to be a most useful plant in herbal medicine. 

* Archaic term for abscesses.