Perennial. Rich soil in open woods and along streams in ravines. Quebec to the Canadian Rockies, New England, south to Maryland and west to Wisconsin. Abundant in northern Ohio. March, April.

Rootstock

Bearing small tubers.

Stems

Erect, four to six inches high, smooth, slightly hairy, bearing a terminal raceme of rose-purple flowers.

Stem-Leaves

Ovate, rhombic, or lanceolate, toothed or entire; root-leaves rounded, on long petioles, often heart-shaped, sparingly toothed.

Flowers

Purplish pink, of the type called crucifer, borne in a loose terminal raceme.

Calyx

Four sepals.

Corolla

Four purplish pink petals, opposite each other in pairs forming a cross, with short claws.

Stamens

Six, two shorter than the other four.

Pistil

One; ovary two-celled, with a two-lobed style.

Fruit

Very slender pods, tipped with style.

Pollinated by small bees. Nectar-bearing.

All the Cresses belong to the Mustard family, whose Latin name, Crucifera, means cross-bearers. This by no means implies martyrdom - far from it; the crucifers are an exceedingly prosperous folk, surpassed by few in their ability to possess the earth, for the family has learned to do team-work, to produce many pods on a stem and many seeds in a pod. It has also developed a pungent and biting juice to warn off the premises marauding worms and caterpillars.

The flowers of the family, big or little, are practically alike. The petals are arranged in the form of a Greek cross, that is, all the arms are of equal length. The six stamens are in two sets, four long and two short. The fruit is a pod, not like the pod of a pea or bean, but a pod with a thin membrane running lengthwise, dividing it into two divisions, each having a row of seeds.

The Purple Cress was long considered a variety of the White Cress, Carddmine rhomboidea. The specific differences between them are not many. The Purple Cress is a smaller plant, blooms earlier, and has a more northward range. Its blossoms are pale purple-pink, those of Cardamine rhomboidea are white and often a little larger; otherwise the plants are alike. It is abundant in northern Ohio and appears shortly after and often with the Hepatica. Our native Cardamine may be distinguished from the Dentarias, with which it is usually found, chiefly by its leafy stem and the varying forms of its leaves, which may be lanceolate, rhomboid, or ovate, but simple, not compound. The leaves of the Dentarias as well as the introduced Car-ddmine pratensis are compound.

Purple Spring Cress. Cardamine purpurea

Purple Spring Cress. Cardamine purpurea