HAIRY BITTERCRESS (Cardamine hirsuta)
How to Identify Hairy Bittercress(Edible)
Hairy Bittercress, Lamb’s Cress, Hoary Bittercress, Spring Cress, Flick Weed, Shot Weed
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 hazardsNot recorded as toxic
Could be confused withOther 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 ofButterflies, from 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
HabitatDisturbed earth, cracks in pavements, open ground, turf, plant pots, walls – any tiny bit of soil it can find!
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
All part 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
HerbalSome circumstantial evidence suggests that Hairy Bittercress may have anti-tumour properties. Please see your doctor if you have a medical problem