Weed Watch: Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine Hirsuta) is a winter annual weed that begins growing in late fall and resumes growing in late winter and early spring, often before other plants wake up from their winter slumber.

This weed forms a rosette of leaves in the fall and usually waits until spring to flower. It forms small white flowers on stems above the foliage. The flowers turn into long thin seed pods. When the seeds are ripe, the pods explode when disturbed, shooting the seeds up to 16 feet according to some sources.

Hairy Bittercress is an annual and is usually shallow rooted and easy to pull out. The secret to its success as a weed is the prolific amount of seed and the ability to spread it by explosion so early in the season when other plants have not yet emerged to cover ground.

The best way to manage this weed is to pull them before they make seeds. Removing the rosettes in the fall or early winter can reduce the springtime invasion.

However, Hairy Bittercress does have some wildlife value for early butterfly caterpillars and specialist bees.  If possible, leave a patch in your yard for the caterpillars to munch.

Fun fact… Hairy Bittercress is part of the mustard family and is edible. It apparently has a mild, peppery flavor.

Want more information? Here are some links:

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Weed of the Month

North Carolina Extension – Cardamine hirsuta

One thought on “Weed Watch: Hairy Bittercress”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s