Description and Biology
- Plant: biennial herb in the mustard family (Brassicaceae); first-year plants are low rosettes of kidney shaped leaves; second-year plants produce single or multiple flowering stalks 1-4 ft. high and, then die back by late spring; dried fruiting stalks may persist for many months.
- Leaves: crushed leaves and stems smell like garlic; first-year leaves are kidney-shaped with scalloped margins; leaves of mature, second year plants are heart-shaped with toothed margins and pointed tips.
- Flowers, fruits and seeds: flowers occur in small button-shaped clusters, flowers have four petals in the shape of a cross; fruits are slender, erect capsules (siliques); seeds are 2½-3 mm long, slender and tan to dark.
- Spreads: a single plant can produce hundreds of seeds, most of which fall nearby but may be carried further by wind, water, wildlife and people.
- Look-alikes: toothworts (Cardamine or Dentaria), sweet cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii), wild anise (Osmorhiza longistylis) and early saxifrage (Saxifraga virginiensis).
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