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Cardamine californica

Higher Taxonomy
Family: Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)View DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to shrub; sap pungent, watery. Leaf: generally simple, alternate; generally both basal, cauline; stipules 0. Inflorescence: generally raceme, generally not bracted. Flower: bisexual, generally radial; sepals 4, generally free; petals (0)4, forming a cross, generally white or yellow to purple; stamens generally 6 (2 or 4), 4 long, 2 short (3 pairs of unequal length); ovary 1, superior, generally 2-chambered with septum connecting 2 parietal placentas; style 1, stigma entire or 2-lobed. Fruit: capsule, generally 2-valved, "silique" (length >= 3 × width) or "silicle" (length < 3 × width), dehiscent by 2 valves or indehiscent, cylindric or flat parallel or perpendicular to septum, segmented or not. Seed: 1--many, in 1 or 2 rows per chamber, winged or wingless; embryo strongly curved.
Genera In Family: +- 330 genera, 3780 species: worldwide, especially temperate. Note: Highest diversity in Mediterranean area, mountains of southwestern Asia, adjacent central Asia, western North America; some Brassica species are oil or vegetable crops; Arabidopsis thaliana used in experimental molecular biology; many species are ornamentals, weeds. Aurinia saxatilis (L.) Desvaux in cultivation only. Aubrieta occasional waif in central NCoR, Carrichtera annua (L.) DC. in SCo, Iberis sempervirens L., Iberis umbellata L. in PR, Teesdalia coronopifolia (Bergeret) Thell., Teesdalia nudicaulis (L.) W.T. Aiton in southern NCoRO, CCo. Cardaria, Coronopus moved to Lepidium; Caulostramina to Hesperidanthus; Guillenia to Caulanthus; Heterodraba to Athysanus; California taxa of Lesquerella to Physaria; Malcolmia africana to Strigosella.
eFlora Treatment Author: Ihsan A. Al-Shehbaz, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: CardamineView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Annual to perennial herb, from taproots, fibrous roots, or tuber-like rhizomes; hairs 0 or simple. Leaf: alternate, opposite, or whorled; entire to palmately, pinnately lobed, or compound; cauline leaves petioled or 0, not lobed at base [lobed]. Inflorescence: elongated, bracts generally 0. Flower: sepals erect (spreading), bases sac-like or not; petals white, pink, purple, or violet. Fruit: silique, linear, flat parallel to septum, dehiscent, unsegmented; valves generally coiling when dehiscent; placental margins flattened. Seed: (4)10--80, in 1 row, wingless.
Etymology: (Greek: for cress) Note: Some North American species (e.g., Cardamine californica, Cardamine nuttallii, Cardamine pachystigma) highly variable, more study needed; species treated conservatively here. Cardamine flexuosa With. a waif in gardens, nurseries.
Unabridged Note: Some North American species (e.g., Cardamine californica, Cardamine nuttallii, Cardamine pachystigma) highly variable and numerous minor variants were recognized as varieties. Critical studies of these complexes reveal that only a fraction of the overall continuous variation was formally recognized. Without detailed molecular and cytological studies, a broader species concept is adopted herein.
eFlora Treatment Author: Ihsan A. Al-Shehbaz
Cardamine californica (Nutt.) Greene
Habit: Perennial herb; rhizome (3)4--10 mm wide, tuber-like, spheric to ovoid or +- oblong, deeply buried; hairs 0 (minute, simple). Stem: (2)2.7--6(7) dm, erect, simple. Leaf: leaflets of rhizome leaves (0)3(5--7), 8--25(38) cm; terminal leaflet (1.5)2.5--7.5(10) cm, (1.2)2--9(13) cm wide, ovate to round, widely cordate, or reniform, base obtuse to cordate, margin entire to dentate or shallowly wavy; lateral leaflets when present +- = terminal leaflet or smaller; cauline 2--5, petioled; leaflets (0)3(5), widely ovate to +- round or lanceolate, Flower: sepals 3.5--4.5(5.5) mm; petals 8--13(15) mm, 4--8 mm wide, white or pale rose. Fruit: 2.2--5(6) cm, 2--3 mm wide; style 3--6 mm; pedicel ascending, 1--3(4) cm. Seed: 12--22, 1.7--2.8 mm, oblong. Chromosomes: 2n=32.
Ecology: Generally shaded sites, canyons, woodland; Elevation: < 1400 m. Bioregional Distribution: CA-FP; Distribution Outside California: Baja California. Flowering Time: Jan--May
Synonyms: Cardamine californica var. californica; Dentaria californica Nutt.; Cardamine californica var. cardiophylla (Greene) Rollins; Cardamine californica var. cuneata (Greene) Rollins; Cardamine californica var. integrifolia (Nutt.) Rollins; Cardamine californica var. sinuata (Greene) O.E. Schulz; Cardamine pachystigma var. dissectifolia (Detling) Rollins Listed in CNPS Inventory; Dentaria californica var. cardiophylla (Greene) Detling; Dentaria californica var. cuneata (Greene) Detling; Dentaria californica var. integrifolia (Nutt.) Detling; Dentaria californica var. sinuata (Greene) Detling; Dentaria pachystigma S. Watson var. dissectifolia Detling
Jepson eFlora Author: Ihsan A. Al-Shehbaz
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Cardamine californica

botanical illustration including Cardamine californica

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Citation for this treatment: Ihsan A. Al-Shehbaz 2012, Cardamine californica, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 27, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 27, 2024.

Cardamine californica
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©2008 Keir Morse
Cardamine californica
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©2008 Keir Morse
Cardamine californica
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©2015 Keir Morse
Cardamine californica
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©2022 California Academy of Sciences
Cardamine californica
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©2011 Larry Blakely

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Geographic subdivisions for Cardamine californica:
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).