This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Perennial herbs, with fleshy horizontal scaly or toothed rootstocks, erect mostly un-branched stems leafless below, 3-divided or palmately laciniate petioled leaves, and corymbose or short-racemose, white, rose-colored or purple flowers. Petals much longer than the sepals. Stamens 6. Style slender. Silique linear, flat, elastically dehiscent from the base, its valves nerveless or with a faint midnerve; stipe none. Seeds in 1 row in each cell, thick, oval, flattened, wingless; cotyledons thick, nearly or quite equal, accumbent. [Greek, tooth, from the tooth-like divisions of the rootstock.]
About 15 species, natives of the northern hemisphere. Besides the following, some 7 others occur in the western parts of North America. The species are called Pepper-root and Tooth-root, from their pungent and toothed rootstocks. Type species: Dentaria pentaphyllos L.
Basal leaves and stem-leaves similar.
Leaf-divisions lanceolate or oblong, lobed or cleft; joints of the rootstock readily separable.
Leaf-divisions ovate or ovate-oblong, crenate or lobed.
Stem-leaves 2, opposite, or close together; rootstock continuous.
Stem-leaves 2-5, alternate; rootstock jointed.
Divisions of the stem-leaves linear or lanceolate; those of the basal leaves ovate, much broader;
joints of the rootstock readily separable.
Erect, pubescent or glabrous, 8'-15' high; rootstock deep, tubercled, jointed, the joints readily separable. Leaves all petioled, 2'-5' broad, those of the stem generally 3 and approximate or verticillate, rarely distant, 3-parted nearly to the base; divisions lanceolate, linear or oblong, the lateral ones often deeply 2-cleft, all incisely toothed or lobed, or the lateral ones entire; basal leaves similar, rarely developed at flowering time; pedicels stout, 8"-10" long in fruit; flowers 7"-9" broad, white or pink; pods linear, ascending, 1'-1 1/2' long.
In moist or rich woods, Quebec to Florida, west to Minnesota, Kansas and Louisiana. Purple-flowered toothwort. Crow-foot. Crow-toes. April-June.