Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

Spring Cress is one of the more attractive members of the Mustard family as its flowers are fairly large (spanning about ½" across). This wildflower favors the more damp areas of woodlands and it is sometimes found in soggy meadows. Another native species, Cardamine douglassii (Purple Cress), is very similar to Spring Cress. Both species prefer similar habitats, bloom during the spring, and their flowers and foliage are similar to each other. Purple Cress differs from Spring Cress by the purplish-pink tint of its flower petals, sepals that are dark purple and hairy, and stems that are hairy toward the base. It has a tendency to bloom about 2 weeks before Spring Cress. Other Cardamine spp. (Bitter Cress species) in Illinois have either smaller flowers (about ¼" across or less) or at least some of their leaves are deeply divided into lobes (either pinnately or palmately). Spring Cress (and other species in the genus) isn't classified as an Arabis sp. (Rock Cress) because of its wingless seeds; the seeds of Rock Cresses have winged membranous margins of varying widths.
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Description

This native perennial wildflower is ½–1½' tall with an erect stem that is unbranched or sparingly branched toward the apex where the inflorescence occurs. The central stem is medium green, glabrous, and terete; it occasionally has fine longitudinal ridges. There are both basal leaves and alternate leaves. The blades of the basal leaves are up to 1¼" long and 1" across; they are oval to orbicular in shape, medium green, glabrous, and smooth or undulate along their margins. The slender petioles of the basal leaves are usually longer than the blades. The alternate leaves are produced sparingly along the central stem; they are up to 2" long and 1" across, medium green, and glabrous. The alternate leaves are oblong-ovate in shape and their margins are smooth, undulate, or bluntly dentate; at the base, each alternate leaf is sessile or short-petioled. The central stem terminates in a raceme of flowers; the flowers usually bloom in the upper half of the raceme, while their siliques (narrowly cylindrical seedpods) develop below. Each flower consists of 4 petals, 4 sepals, 6 stamens, and a pistil with a single style; when the flower is fully open, it spans about ½" across. The petals are white with rounded tips. The glabrous sepals are initially green, but they become yellow as they age. The petals are much longer than the sepals. Each flower has a slender pedicel about ½" long. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late spring and lasts about 3 weeks. The flowers are sometimes fragrant. Each flower is replaced by a slender hairless silique about 1" long that is somewhat flattened. The siliques are ascending to erect; they eventually divide into two parts to release their seeds. These seeds are ovoid, somewhat flattened, and wingless; they are arranged in a single row in each silique. Each plant has a swollen tuberous rootstock at the base of the central stem; this tuberous rootstock has spreading fibrous roots that occasionally produce small tubers. New plants are created from either the seeds or tubers.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Spring Cress is occasional to locally common in most areas of Illinois; it is less common or absent in the SW section of the state (see Distribution Map). This species may be less common than in the past. Habitats include low woodlands along rivers, edges of vernal pools in woodlands, damp depressions in rocky bluffs, woodland seeps and springs, and damp meadows.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Spring Cress is occasional to locally common in most areas of Illinois; it is less common or absent in the SW section of the state (see Distribution Map). This species may be less common than in the past. Habitats include low woodlands along rivers, edges of vernal pools in woodlands, damp depressions in rocky bluffs, woodland seeps and springs, and damp meadows.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Associations

Faunal Associations

The nectar of the flowers attracts Cuckoo bees (Nomada spp.), Mason bees (Osmia spp.), Little Carpenter bees (Ceratina spp.), Halictid bees (Augochlorella spp., Halictus spp., & Lasioglossum spp.), Andrenid bees (Andrena spp.), Bee flies (Bombylius spp.), Dance flies (Empis spp.), Syrphid flies (miscellaneous), small- to medium-sized butterflies (miscellaneous), and skippers (miscellaneous). Some of the bees also collect pollen. The flea beetles Phyllotreta oblonga and Phyllotreta bipustulata feed on Spring Cress and other Cardamine spp. (Bitter Cress species). Mammalian herbivores usually avoid the consumption of Spring Cress because its foliage is pungent and somewhat bitter.
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Flower-Visiting Insects of Spring Cress in Illinois

Cardamine bulbosa (Spring Cress)
(Bees suck nectar or collect pollen; other insects suck nectar; one observation is from Krombein et al. as indicated below, otherwise observations are from Robertson)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus sn; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina calcarata sn, Ceratina dupla dupla sn cp fq; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Synhalonia speciosa sn; Anthophoridae (Nomadini): Nomada denticulata sn, Nomada superba superba sn; Megachilidae (Osmiini): Hoplitis pilosifrons sn, Osmia atriventris sn fq, Osmia collinsiae sn, Osmia conjuncta sn cp, Osmia cordata sn fq, Osmia georgica sn, Osmia lignaria lignaria sn, Osmia pumila sn cp fq

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Augochlorella aurata sn, Augochlorella striata sn, Halictus confusus sn fq, Halictus ligatus sn, Lasioglossum pectoralis sn cp fq, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn cp, Lasioglossum pruinosus sn cp fq, Lasioglossum versatus sn cp fq; Colletidae (Hylaeinae): Hylaeus mesillae sn; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena arabis sn cp fq, Andrena forbesii (Kr), Andrena miserabilis bipunctata sn, Andrena personata sn, Andrena sayi sn, Andrena violae sn

Flies
Stratiomyidae: Nemotelus glaber; Syrphidae: Orthonevra pictipennis, Sphaerophoria contiqua, Toxomerus marginatus; Empididae: Empis desiderata, Empis nuda, Empis otiosa; Bombyliidae: Bombylius atriceps fq, Bombylius major; Conopidae: Zodion fulvifrons; Calliphoridae: Lucilia illustris; Fanniidae: Fannia manicata

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Chlosyne nycteis, Vanessa atalanta; Lycaenidae: Everes comyntas; Pieridae: Colias philodice, Eurema nicippe, Pieris rapae

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Epargyreus clarus, Pholisora catullus

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cardamine bulbosa

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is partial sun or dappled sunlight, wet to moist conditions, and a loose fertile loam with organic material. Shallow standing water is tolerated if it is temporary; full sun is tolerated if the ground is consistently moist. Most growth and development occurs during the spring before the canopy trees leaf out.
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Wikipedia

Cardamine bulbosa

The Bulbous Cress, Bittercress, or Spring Cress (Cardamine bulbosa) is a perennial plant native to eastern North America. This plant grows in moist soils of bottomland woods and wet meadows.

In late spring and early summer, white flowers are produced well above the foliage.

References[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Has sometimes been treated as Cardamine rhomboidea; treated as Cardamine bulbosa in 1994 Kartesz checklist 1999 Synthesis.

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