Identify Hairy Bitter Cress

HAIRY BITTERCRESS (Cardamine hirsuta)

Hairy Bittercress - Cardamine Hirsuta

How to Identify Hairy Bittercress(Edible)

Common names
Hairy Bittercress, Lamb’s Cress, Hoary Bittercress, Spring Cress, Flick Weed, Shot Weed

Botanical name
Cardamine hirsuta

Meaning of botanical name
Cardamine comes from the Greek Kardamon, meaning cress-like. Hirsuta means hairy, which is in references to the hairs on the leaves of Hairy Bittercress

Known hazards
Not recorded as toxic

Could be confused with
Other members of the Cardamine family, all of which are edible. Or, young Watercress (Nastertium Officinale), which is also edible – plants growing in waterways in the UK should be cooked first.

Food plant of
Butterflies, which it provides an early source of nectar for

Range and distribution
Native to Europe and Asia, but can be found in many countries around the world

Disturbed earth, cracks in pavements, open ground, turf, plant pots, walls – any tiny bit of soil it can find!

Physical characteristics
Forms a rosette of leaves made up of pairs of leaflets and terminating in a palmate leaf. The leaves are covered in tiny hairs.

Hairy Bittercress puts up a flower stalk that can reach up to 30cm in height but is usually much shorter, that produces a cluster of small white flowers. Those flowers become long thin seed pods.

Hairy bittercress is a very successful plant and, in the UK, will go through its life cycle several times between spring and early winter

Edible use
All parts of the plants are edible and taste strongly of cress. However, the flower stalk can get quite woody. Hairy Bittercress has a lovely flavour to add to a salad and, like cress, works very well with scrambled eggs or egg mayonnaise

Some circumstantial evidence suggests that Hairy Bittercress may have anti-tumour properties. 
Please see your doctor if you have a medical problem

Identification is key!

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