Information on Wavy Bitter-cress

Common Name: Wavy Bitter-cress
Scientific Name: Cardamine flexuosa
Irish Name: Searbh-bhiolar casta
Family Group: Brassicaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


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Wavy Bitter-cress could sometimes be confused with:

Bitter-cress, Narrow-leaved, Bitter-cress, Hairy, Cress, Thale,

This is a little perennial or biennial plant which can be easily overlooked.  In many ways it is very like its annual relative, Hairy Bitter-cress, but it can be distinguished by a few identifying factors; firstly it's taller than its cousin, reaching to 50cm high; then there are the leaves – this plant has between 4 and 10 stem leaves as well as its basal rosette whereas Hairy Bitter-cress only has 1 – 4 stem leaves and a basal rosette.  The leaves are pinnately divided and have ovate, rounded lobes.  The stems of this plant are – as the common name suggests – wavy, and they are also quite hairy.  However what I find to be the simplest way of differentiating these two little wildflowers is by counting the number of stamens – Wavy Bitter-cress has 6 stamens and Hairy Bitter-cress has only 4.  These emerge from pretty little white 4-petalled flowers (3-4mm across) which are borne in loose clusters on the hairy, wavy, grooved stems from March to September.  The seeds are held in long, narrow seed-pods which barely reach above the flowers.  This is a native plant which grows on waste ground, mostly damp and shady, and it belongs to the Brassicaceae family.  

I first recorded this little wildflower growing in Inishtioge, Co Kilkenny in 2009 and I photographed it there at that time. 

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

Bitter-cress, Wavy
Bitter-cress, Wavy

Wavy Bitter-cress distributes its seeds by way of its exploding siliquae (long narrow seedpods).  Belonging to the Mustard and Cabbage family – Brassicaceae – like many other members its leaves are sharp-tasting giving it its common name.