Transformational Gardening

Disclaimer: Foraging can be fun, rewarding and provide health benefits. As a novice forager, I will be sharing my foraging experiences. However, in order to be safe, always consult with local foraging experts and guidebooks before beginning foraging. Children should learn to forage safely by being guided by experienced adults. Never ingest anything unless you are certain of the identification and safety of the plant. Some plant species are inedible and some are poisonous.

Pennsylvania Bittercress (Cardamine pensylvanica): Images

Date Location Notes Images
April 15, 2012 Southeastern, New Hampshire This plant was growing in a 30-foot wide, 6-inch to 2-feet deep stream. Some of the plants were partially above the water and some were in the middle of the steam several inches below the water. It looked like watercress. After futile attempts to confirm identification, I sent a couple of pictures to Arthur Haines and he suggested that it looks like Pennsylvania Bittercress, but he couldn't be certain from the two pictures I sent.

Pennsylvania Bittercress is not bitter, but it is a fantastic green that can be eaten raw or cooked. When eaten raw it has a nice, horseradish-like taste. After cooking, it becomes much more mild. I picked a bunch to eat and enjoy.

I will need to do more work to confirm identification. I have narrowed it down to one of the following:
  • Pennsylvania Bittercress (Cardamine pensylvanica)
  • Pink Cuckoo Bittercress (Cardamine pratensis var. palustris) -- From a drawing I have seen, the palustris variation has leaflets similar to this plant.
  • One-Row Watercress (Nasturtium microphyllum)
  • Two-Row Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
  • Great Yellowcress (Rorippa amphibia)
The reason I am somewhat wary of the Pennsylvania Bittercress identification is that I am unsure if it is often completely submerged underwater as this one was. On the other hand, the Nasturtium species I listed usually have leaflets with petioles. This plant does not one leaflets with petioles.
Date Location Notes Images
May 28, 2012 Southeastern, New Hampshire I was able to confirm that this plant is Pennsylvania Bittercress. Before confirmation, I had the following possibilities:
  • Pennsylvania Bittercress (Cardamine pensylvanica)
  • Pink Cuckoo Bittercress (Cardamine pratensis var. palustris)
  • One-Row Watercress (Nasturtium microphyllum)
  • Two-Row Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)
  • Great Yellowcress (Rorippa amphibia)
The seed pod for One-Row and Two-Row Watercress is much more round in cross-section while the seed pod in these pictures is more flat. In addition, the seeds in this seed pod are aligned in a single row while the seeds in Rorippa and Nasturtium microphyllum are aligned in two rows. The flower petal length for this plant was 1.5 - 2.0 mm. Cardamine pratensis has flower petals over 8 mm long. After eliminating all other possibilities, I was left with Pennsylvania Bittercress (Cardamine pensylvanica).