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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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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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