Freitag, 3. Mai 2013

Plant of the Day (May 4th, 2013) - Cardamine hirsuta L.

Today's “Plant of the Day” is Cardamine hirsuta L. from the Brassicaceae family (also known as Cruciferaceae in some books). Curiously, this species is the first member of the Genus Cardamine (Bitter cress) which I will show you in my blog since it started some years ago. In German, we call this plant “Behaartes Schaumkraut”, “Viermänniges Schaumkraut” or “Gartenschaumkraut”. In English, the species is known as “Hairy Bitter cress”.

C. hirsuta - habitus

It's a small, annual herb, which can reach heights between 7 and 30 centimetres (2.8 to 11.8 inches) Normally, the plant consists of multiple stalks, which all grow upright from a single rosette. These stalks have a characteristic violet colour. The leaves of the rosette are pinnate with one to four leaflets per leaf and a single, terminal leaflet, which is much larger than the other ones. They have a dark-green colour.

C. hirsuta - leaves and the violet stalk
In contrast to its name, the stalk and the leaves of C. hirstua have only a few hairs on theirs surface. Sometimes, these hairs are completely absent.

C. hirsuta - leaf (look at the larger, terminal leaflet)

C. hirsuta has only a few flowers, which are located in a racemes. The pedicels of each raceme are short at first (as a result, the flowers look like umbels) but become longer later. Each flower consists of four petals and sepals. The sepals are small, elliptical and have a greenish colour. The petals are white and inverted egg-shaped. In some cases, the calxy is completely absent (s. picture). Flowering time is between March and June but also in the autumn.

C. hirsuta - flowers

The ripe fruits are the typical pods of the Brassicaceae. These pods are 12 and 25 millimetres long. They stand upright at the end of the pedicels.

C. hirsuta - pods

C. pratensis is native to the temperate regions Eurasia but can also be found in East Africa. During the last years, the propagation of the species increases rapidly and today, it’s a very common plant in Gardens, Parks or on ruderal wasteland. The plant prefers a fresh and sandy soil, which is a little bit acidic.

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