This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(Latin, dens, tooth; referring to the toothed rootstocks). Cruclferae. Toothwort. Small early-flowering herbs, sometimes offered by dealers in native plants.
Hardy herbaceous perennials, usually with pleasant-tasting rootstocks, 2 or 3 leaves, mostly with 3 parts, and corymbs or racemes of large white or purplish flowers in spring: stems mostly unbranched and not leafy below: leaves palmately 3-divided or laciniate: petals surpassing the sepals; stamens 6; style slender: fruit a very narrow flat silique dehiscent from the base. - Probably 20 species in Eu., Asia and in N. Amer. The European and E. American species are readily told from Cardamine by habit and many obvious differences, but the W. American representatives of the 2 genera converge so that some botanists have merged Dentaria into Cardamine. (See E. L. Greene, Pittonia, 3:117-124.)
Several species are cultivated in Old World rockeries. They are of easy culture in light rich soil, and moist shady positions. Usually propagated by division, as seeds are not abundant.
a. Rootstock continuous, not tuberous.
Michx. Pepper-Root. Fig. 1241. Eight to 16 in.: rootstock several inches long, often branched, strongly toothed at the many nodes: stem - leaves 2, similar to the root-leaves, close together; segments 3, ovate or oblong-ovate, coarsely crenate, the teeth abruptly acute: petals white inside, pale purple or pinkish outside. Nova Scotia to S. C., west to Minn, and Ky. B.M. 1465. - Rootstocks 5-10 in. long, crisp, tasting like water-cress. Pretty spring flower
aa. Rootstock tuberous or jointed.
b. Leaves deeply 3-parted, but not into distinct Ifts.
Muhl. Eight to 16 in.: the stem pubescent above: tubers deep: stem - leaves 3, with lateral segments often 2-lobed, all oblong to linear, more or less sharply toothed: petals purplish to white. Que. to Minn., south to Fla. and La. variety Integra, Fern., has the lateral segments entire or nearly so. D. anomala, Eames, is perhaps a hybrid with D. diphylla; Conn.
Nutt. (C. gemmata, Greene). stem simple, 4-15 in.: leaves 1-3, palmately or pinnately 3-5-parted, or divided; segments linear to oblong, entire: flowers purple or rose: tubers with joints about 1 in. long. N. Calif, to Brit. Col.
Fig. 1241. Dentaria diphylla. (X 1/2) bb. Leaves of stem cut into 3 distinct Ifts. (except sometimes in D. calif ornica).
Pursh. Six to 12 in.: tubers small, irregular: basal leaves simple and round-cordate, crenate or sinuate; stem - leaves 1 or 2, nearly sessile, sometimes bulbiferous; Ifts. linear-oblong or linear, obtuse, entire: petals rose. Ore., Wash.
Nutt. Tubers mostly small: 1/2-2 ft. high: leaves very variable; stem - leaves 2-4, mostly short-petiolate, and above the middle of the stem with 3-5 Ifts., rarely simple or lobed; Ifts. mostly short-petio-lulate, ovate to lanceolate or linear, entire or toothed: petals white or rose. Mountains and streams of Calif, and Ore.
Nutt. Ten to 16 in.: tubers near the surface, jointed, strongly tubercled: stem - leaves 2 or 3, usually alternate; Ifts. ovate or oblong-ovate, coarsely toothed and somewhat cleft or lobed, with petiolulcs: flowers white or purple-tinged. Maine to Mich, and Pa.
L. H. B.†