Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh

Cruciferae

Broadleaf Toothwort (Cardamine diphylla)

Just as the Cut-Leaf Toothworts (C. concatenata) are winding down, the Broadleaf Toothworts open up. They are not as common as the Cut-Leaf Toothworts, but they like the same wooded hillsides, especially in stream valleys. Broad-Leaf Toothwort is easily distinguished by its two leaves with three broad leaflets each (C. concatenata has three leaves with very narrow lobes). These plants were blooming in early May near the Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel.

Gray lists this as Dentaria diphylla. He describes the genus and the species thus:

DENTARIA [Tourn.] L. TOOTHWORT. PEPPER-ROOT. Pod lanceolate, flat. Style elongated. Seeds in one row, wingless, the funiculus broad and flat. Cotyledons petioled, thick, very unequal, their margins somewhat infolding each other. —Perennials, of damp woodlands, with long fleshy sometimes interrupted scaly or toothed rootstocks, of a pleasant pungent taste; steins leafless below, bearing 2 or 3 petioled compound leaves about or above the middle, and terminated by a corymb or short raceme of large white or purple flowers. (Name from dens, a tooth.)

D. diphylla Michx. Rootstock long and continuous, often branched, the annual segments slightly or not at all tapering at the ends; stems in anthesis 1.5-3 dm. high, stoutish; leaves 3-foliolate, the basal and cauline similar, the latter 2 (rarely 3), opposite or subopposite, leaflets 4-10 cm. long, short-petiolulate, rhombic-ovate or oblong-ovate, coarsely crenate, the teeth bluntly mucronate; flowers white; sepals 5-8 mm. long, half the length of the petals; pods rarely maturing. Rich woods and thickets, e. Que. to s. Ont. and Minn., s. to S.C. and Ky. Apr., May. Rootstocks 2-3 dm. long, crisp, tasting like Water Cress.


Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata)

Cut-Leaf Toothworts are quite variable. The population in the Kane Woods Nature Area has mostly long-petaled flowers that tend to hang downwards, with very finely cut leaves. The population in Bird Park, as we see in these late-April pictures, has more regular flowers that face upward, with leaves less finely divided. Even there, however, the length of petals and the shape of the flowers varies over a wide range.

Gray puts the Toothworts in the genus Dentaria, and lists this one as Dentaria laciniata.

DENTARIA [Tourn.] L. TOOTHWORT. PEPPER-ROOT
Pod lanceolate, flat. Style elongated. Seeds in one row, wingless, the funiculus broad and flat. Cotyledons petioled, thick, very unequal, their margins somewhat infolding each other. —Perennials, of damp woodlands, with long fleshy sometimes interrupted scaly or toothed rootstocks, of a pleasant pungent taste; stems leafless below, bearing 2 or 3 petioled compound leaves about or above the middle, and terminated by a corymb or short raceme of large white or purple flowers. (Name from dens, a tooth.)

D. laciniata Muhl. Tubers deep-seated; stems pubescent above; cauline leaves 3, whorled or nearly so, the lateral leaflets deeply cleft, glabrous or pubescent, the segments linear to narrowly oblong, conspicuously gash-toothed; basal leaves, when present, similar; flowers white or purplish; calyx 6-9 mm. long; petals 1-2 cm. long. Rich damp woods, w. Que. and Vt. to Minn., and southw. Apr., early May.


Toothwort (Cardamine concatenata)

A plant whose whole life cycle, from bursting out of the ground through flowering and seeding and withering and back to dormancy, occupies about a month in the early spring. Toothworts are common in the woods around Pittsburgh, sometimes in great numbers. The deeply cut leaves are distinctive and easily set this plant apart from other members of the same group, such as the Broadleaf Toothwort and Spring Cress.

Gray puts the Toothworts in the genus Dentaria, and lists this one as Dentaria laciniata.

DENTARIA [Tourn.] L. TOOTHWORT. PEPPER-ROOT
Pod lanceolate, flat. Style elongated. Seeds in one row, wingless, the funiculus broad and flat. Cotyledons petioled, thick, very unequal, their margins somewhat infolding each other. —Perennials, of damp woodlands, with long fleshy sometimes interrupted scaly or toothed rootstocks, of a pleasant pungent taste; stems leafless below, bearing 2 or 3 petioled compound leaves about or above the middle, and terminated by a corymb or short raceme of large white or purple flowers. (Name from dens, a tooth.)

D. laciniata Muhl. Tubers deep-seated; stems pubescent above; cauline leaves 3, whorled or nearly so, the lateral leaflets deeply cleft, glabrous or pubescent, the segments linear to narrowly oblong, conspicuously gash-toothed; basal leaves, when present, similar; flowers white or purplish; calyx 6-9 mm. long; petals 1-2 cm. long. Rich damp woods, w. Que. and Vt. to Minn., and southw. Apr., early May.


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