Hairy bittercress

(More Lawn Weeds)

Hairy bittercress
Cardamine hirsuta


Hairy bittercress going to seed

Life cycle

Primarily a winter annual.

Growth habit

Basal rosette of pinnate leaves; 1-3 pairs of leaflets with
terminal, larger leaflet; tiny, 4-petaled white flowers in clusters at top of stems,
followed by slender, upright seed capsules.


Young hairy bittercress
Photo: C. Carignan, HGIC

Reproduction

Seed; when mature capsules pop explosively.

Conditions that favor growth

Shade and mowing lawn too short.

Management in Lawns

  • Cultural Practices
    Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment.
  • Mechanical Management
    Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier. Weeds with tap roots like dandelions or have a basal rosette (leaves clustered close to the ground) like plantain or hairy bittercress are easier to pull than weeds such as Bermudagrass (wiregrass) or creeping Charlie (ground ivy) that spread with stolons or creeping stems that root along the ground.
  • Chemical Treatment in Lawns
    Herbicides should be used as a last resort because of the potential risks to people, animals, and the environment. Read these precautions first.
    A preemergent applied in late summer/early fall can help prevent hairy bittercress from germinating, however, you will not be able to sow grass seed. Or spot treat actively growing weeds with a liquid, selective, postemergent, broadleaf weed killer in the spring before it goes to seed (photo at top of page). Look for a product with one or more of the following active ingredients:
    2, 4-D, MCPP (mecoprop), Dicamba* or Triclopyr.
    *Do not spray herbicides containing dicamba over the root zone of trees and shrubs. Roots can absorb the product possibly causing plant damage. Read the product label for precautions.
  • Organic Lawn Herbicides

Weed of the Week: Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress weed

About Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsute), is a winter and summer annual that germinates from seed during cool moist conditions, like spring and fall. It is a prolific seed producer that explodes at the slightest touch, sending tiny seeds flying in all directions when the seedpods mature. Once established, it is VERY difficult to eradicate.

Hairy Bittercress is a member of the mustard family (Cruciferae) with a flat rosette of leaves that produces small white, four-petal flowers. One tiny flower can produce up to 600 seeds, enough to take over a garden. It likes to grow in disturbed soil in sunny, damp areas. If allowed to go to seed, bittercress can quickly become a menace in walkways, garden beds and lawns.

Controlling Hairy Bittercress

Hairy bittercress seed pods

Hairy bittercress is easy to pull by hand. Pull it before it has a chance to flower or set seed. Or, you can cut off the tops of young seedlings with a hoe and remove them from the soil surface.

Apply mulch after weeding to prevent further germination.

If you prefer to use an organic herbicide, horticultural vinegar with a small amount of orange oil will top-kill bittercress. It does not kill the roots, so it’s most effective on young, germinating plants, otherwise it may take a couple of applications spaced out 1-2 weeks apart.

Benefits of Hairy Bittercress

Bittercress adds a peppery accent to salads

Hairy bittercress is an edible, bitter herb that can provide a peppery addition to salads. Like all members of the mustard family, it is loaded with nutrients.

Stay Vigilant

During late fall and spring (when bittercress is starting to germinate) we recommend going on patrol once or twice a week for this pesky weed. They grow quickly so get to them before the seeds pop or you’ll be cursing the little buggers for seasons to come.

I have a wretched weed, bittercress I believe, invading my flower beds. I spray it with Roundup but before my back is turned it returns. It seems that almost each day I have to pick out tiny plants from my borders. How do I get rid of it?

Dene Gill, via email

This annual – probably Cardamine corymbosa – is one of a weed trio commonly called hairy bittercress, a small relation of lady’s smock, the pretty, spring-flowering hedgerow plant. Bittercress initially forms crowds of ground‑hugging rosettes of bright green foliage. Barely noticeable white flowers on short stems give way to explosive seed heads – and here lies your problem: as you pull up the tiny plants you inevitably disperse the seed, which will then germinate, flower and in turn set seed at any time of the year (especially during a mild, damp autumn).

Thus control is not achieved with a spritz of glyphosate. Regular hoeing before the plants have time to flower and seed is more successful – eventually. Looking on the bright side: hairy bittercress isn’t one of those spreading rooty perennial weeds that throttle our valued plants, and where weedlings do manage to colonise the ground under shrubs they can be smothered into submission by the use of an extra-thick mulch.

Hairy Bittercress Killer: Learn More About Control For Hairy Bittercress

Late winter and spring signal growth of all plants, but especially weeds. Annual weed seeds overwinter and then burst into growth towards the end of the season. Hairy bittercress weed is no exception. What is hairy bittercress? The plant is an annual weed, which is one of the earliest to sprout and form seeds. Control for hairy bittercress starts early in the season before flowers turn to seed and get a chance to spread.

What is Hairy Bittercress?

Hairy bittercress weed (Cardamine hirsuta) is an annual spring or winter pest. The plant springs from a basal rosette and bears 3- to 9-inch long stems. The leaves are alternate and slightly scalloped with the largest at the base of the plant. Tiny white flowers develop at the ends of the stems and then turn into long seedpods. These pods split open explosively when ripe and fling seeds out into the environment.

The weed prefers cool, moist soil and is most prolific after early spring rains. The weeds spread quickly but their appearance reduces as temperatures increase. The plant has a long, deep taproot, which makes pulling them out manually ineffective. Control for hairy bittercress is cultural and chemical.

Preventing Hairy Bittercress in the Garden

This pesky weed is small enough to hide among your landscape plants. Its extensive seed expulsion means that just one or two weeds can spread quickly through the garden in spring. Early control for hairy bittergrass is essential to protect the rest of the landscape from an infestation.

Prevent invasions into turf areas by encouraging good grass growth. The weeds easily infest thin or patchy areas. Apply several inches of mulch around landscape plants to help prevent seeds from getting a foothold in your soil.

Cultural Control for Hairy Bittercress

Pulling out hairy bittercress weed usually leaves the root behind. The plant will re-sprout from healthy weeds and the problem persists. You can, however, use a long slim weeding tool to dig down and around the taproot and get all the plant material out of the ground.

Mowing will achieve control over time. Do it frequently enough that you remove the flower heads before they become seed pods.

As temperatures get warmer, the plant will die naturally without having reproduced. That means fewer weeds the following season.

Chemical Hairy Bittercress Killer

Severe infestations of hairy bittercress weed will require chemical treatment. Herbicides applied post emergence need to have two different active ingredients. The ingredients must be 2-4 D, triclopyr, clopyralid, dicamba or MCPP. These are found in broadleaf herbicide preparations known as two, three or four-way treatments.

The higher number preparations will kill a wide range of weeds. The two-way herbicide should be sufficient for your purposes unless you have a field full of a variety of weed pests as well as the hairy bittercress weed. Apply your chosen herbicide in spring or fall.

Hairy bittercress: A weed to watch out for

Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is an annual weed in the mustard family. It often makes its way into landscapes as a “gift with purchase.” A few plants or seeds of bittercress tucked into a container-grown plant are all it needs to get started. Just a plant or two can make a substantial stand of plants in a year or so.

Like many members of the mustard family, hairy bittercress appears early in spring and sets seed prolifically. Seeds germinate in fall (October) and make a small rosette of leaves that will overwinter. The first true leaves are heart-shaped, followed by leaves with two to four alternating leaflets. Once the weather warms in spring, it sends up stalks of small, white flowers, followed by slender seed pods known as siliques. Once the seedpods ripen, disturbing the pods will send the seeds flying as far as 16 feet, dispersing them over the ground for the next season’s crop.

To manage hairy bittercress, mow or pull it early in the season before it sets seed. Apply post-emergence herbicides to actively growing plants before seedpods form. Don’t add pulled plants to the compost pile just in case they manage to set seed. Pre-emergence herbicides are best applied in fall before seeds germinate.

Manage hairy bittercress by mowing or pulling it early in the season before it sets seed.

Garden News Blog

Weed of the Month: Hairy Bittercress

By Saara Nafici | April 5, 2017

As winter warms to spring, a favorite weed of foragers starts to emerge in rather cute clumps—it’s hairy bittercress! It has actually been lurking near the surface all winter, having germinated in the fall and waited out the cold temperatures before sending up flowers and seeds.

Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) leafs out in a basal rosette, and like other members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), its tender greens are edible. Don’t be fooled by the common name—its flavor is mild and peppery, not bitter. Though the flowers can be tough to chew, the tender leaves are suitable for a chic microgreens salad and have tons of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, and antioxidants.

The flower stalks shoot up above the rosette, topped with clusters of tiny, cross-shaped white flowers. Indeed, the former name for the family is Cruciferae, a reference to the crucifix pattern of the petals common in that family’s flowers. However, when I was little, I remember thinking these tiny flowers looked like frosty pixie wands or fairy crowns, at once earthy, tough, regal, and whimsical.

More: Learn to identify more weeds and find out more about each one by browsing the Weed of the Month archive.

While urban grazers will be most focused on the leaves, I think the seed capsules are the best part of hairy bittercress. Called siliques, they look like purplish-green toothpicks standing upright around the flower. As the seeds mature, the pods begin to coil tightly until—pop! A gentle touch or passing breeze triggers the pods to explode and send the seeds flying as far as three feet from the mother plant. This ballistic dispersal strategy, known as ballochory, is also employed by jewelweed and cranesbill.

Though hairy bittercress is originally from Eurasia and was introduced to North America, there are several species of Cardamine that are native to the United States. Several are listed as threatened or endangered, mostly due to habitat loss.

Hairy bittercress is adapted to moist, disturbed soils, so it emerges wherever we irrigate. Unsurprisingly, then, it’s a common lawn weed (where it can form expansive mats) as well as a greenhouse weed (where it pops up in and around containers). Mowing and hand weeding are the typical means of control—the shallow fibrous roots make it an easy pull. If you do pull some from your garden beds, consider making a farmer’s sandwich of cheese, apples, and a bit of fresh bittercress. Skip the compost pile and send it your stomach instead!

Cardamine hirsuta

Description

Hairy bittercress is a winter annual or biennial plant in the mustard (Brassicaceae) family native to Europe and Asia, but also present in North America. It is commonly found in damp or disturbed soil. It has a basal rosette and may form a dense mat.

The bright green leaves generally contain 4 to 8 leaflets arranged alternately along the rachis. The stems of the plant are hairless and the leaves remain green even through winter months. Small white flowers occur in racemes with individuals containing four petals. They appear on wiry stems from early spring until fall. Like many brassicas, hairy bittercress has a dehiscent seed pod which contains seeds that explode out at the slightest touch. Once it is etablsihed in a lawn, it is difficult to eradicate.

Wildlife Value: The plants are food for the larval (caterpillar) stage of a few early butterflies, including (in the United States) spring azure (Celatrina landon) and falcate orange-tip (Anthocharis midea). Members of the genus Cardamine support the following specialized bee: Andrena (Scaphandrena) arabis.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: It is a favorite plant of aphids.

Cultivars / Varieties: Tags: #bees#weed#edible weed#wildlife plant#weedy#native bees#winter annual weed#specialized bees#edible garden#annual weed#cool season weed#larval host plant#butterfly friendly

Weed of the Week – Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsute)

While temperatures remain cold, and even an occasional snow flake takes flight, there is weed that is giving it is all this spring. That weed is hairy bittercress. While it has been lurking in gardens all winter long, it is flowering its little heart out and setting seeds right now in northwest Ohio.

Photo Credit: Amy Stone

This weed sends out leaves in a basal rosette from seeds that germinated last year. Like other members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), its tender greens are edible. You might be fooled by the common name—the plant is typically not bitter, but rather peppery in taste. Its flowers can be tough to chew, but the tender leaves are said to be a source of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene and antioxidants.

Speaking of flowers, hairy bittercress produces a small cluster of tiny flowers each with 4 white petals. Narrow seed pods stand tall above the flowers. When dried or disturbed, the seed pods “explode” sending seeds in all directions.

Photo Credit: Amy Stone

This seed dispersal strategy is known as ballochory. Jewelweed and cranesbill also employ this as a strategy to spread seeds.

Removing plants prior to them setting seed is highly recommended. In northwest Ohio you will have to move pretty quickly as it doesn’t take much time for the seeds to develop. The use of a pre-emergent herbicide can help reduce future populations. Hairy bittercress can be a nuisance in the landscape, turf, greenhouse and nurseries.

Hairy Bittercress Stock Photos and Images

(115) Narrow your search: Black & white | Page 1 of 2

  • Young plant of hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, an annual garden weed
  • Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine asarifolia, Brassicaceae. Alpine Plant from France, Italy and Switzerland, Europe
  • Young hairy bittercress Cardamine hirsuta plant on soil background
  • The flower of hairy bittercress UK
  • Hairy bittercress Cardamine hirsuta flowering plant in a garden container
  • Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) plant. Common weed and bitter edible herb in the mustard family (Brassicaceae),
  • Young hairy bittercress Cardamine hirsuta plant against a soil background
  • Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta
  • Hairy Bittercress / Cardmine hirsuta – leaves of this edible wild plant that grows in bare open ground, often on damp ground.
  • Hairy Bitter-cress, cardamine hirsuta showing seed capsules over-topping the flowers
  • Cardamine hirsuta, Hairy bittercress
  • A tiny Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) clings to a moss covered rock at the base of Mallyan Spout in North Yorkshire
  • Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) plants flowering. Powys, Wales. April.
  • Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, edible plant
  • Flowers and seeds of Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, a small edible herb.
  • Hairy bittercress weed in wall.
  • Young, non-flowering, specimen of Hairy Bittercress / Cardamine hirsuta growing in bare earth. The leaves are a foraged wild edible food
  • Hairy bittercress
  • hairy bittercress flowering in spring
  • Detail of the mechanism of expulsion of seeds of the plant Cardamine hirsuta hairy bittercress
  • Hairy Bittercress (cardamine hirsuta), close up of a flower head with low depth of field.
  • Hairy Bittercress / Cardmine hirsuta – leaves of this edible wild plant that grows in bare open ground, often on damp ground.
  • Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) in flower
  • Hairy Bitter-cress, cardamine hirsuta
  • Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) flowers and leaves. Weed and bitter edible herb in the mustard family (Brassicaceae),
  • Hairy bittercress Cardamine hirsuta rosette beginning to flower but not fully mature
  • Hairy Bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta
  • Hairy bittercress Cardamine hirsuta flowering plants
  • Cardamine hirsuta. Weed. Hairy bittercress.
  • Hairy Bittercress Cardamine hirsuta plant rosette
  • Cardamine hirsuta, Hairy bittercress
  • Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) young plant rosette on soil
  • Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) plants flowering. Powys, Wales. April.
  • Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, plant flowering in a garden rockery, Berkshire, March
  • Flowers and seeds of Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, a small edible herb.
  • Flowering hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, flowering weed in a Berkshire garden, May
  • Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) plants flowering. Powys, Wales. April.
  • A hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, plant leaf rosette, a common garden weed, February
  • Hairy bittercress
  • Flowers of hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta,
  • Hairy Bittercress / Cardmine hirsuta – leaves of this edible wild plant that grows in bare open ground, often on damp ground.
  • Hairy bittercress, weed. Cardamine hirsuta. With flowers and seed pods.
  • Hairy Bitter Cress (Cardamine hirsuta) clump flowering in chalk grassland meadow, Wiltshire, UK, April.
  • Hairy Bitter-cress (cardamine hirsuta), a close up of the small flowers the plant produces.
  • Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) plants. Flowering on top of a yellow meadow ant (Lasius flavus) nest mound in grassland. Powys, Wales. April.
  • Hairy Bitter-cress (cardamine hirsuta), close up of a single flowering stem showing the flowers and developing seed-pods.
  • Ingredients for a winter strir fry – mostly from the veregatble garden – centre frame Hairy Bittercress – Cardamine hirsuta
  • Mosses and hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) growing in a crack in an asphalt driveway in central Virginia in January.
  • hairy bittercress growing as weed in garden
  • Cardamine hirsuta, Hairy bittercress
  • Tiny male Falcate Orangetip butterfly feeding on a diminutive flower of Hairy Bittercress in early spring
  • Cardamine hirsuta, Hairy bittercress
  • Bittercresses flower close up
  • Hairy Bittercress Cardamine asarifolia Brassicaceae Cruciferae. Alpine Plant from France Italy Switzerland Europe
  • Hairy Bittercress Cardamine hirsuta Sussex UK
  • Macro of hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) leaves and blossoms.
  • A closeup of a bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) in a viennese garden
  • Young plant of hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, an annual garden weed
  • Flowers of hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta,
  • Hairy Bittercress / Cardmine hirsuta – leaves of this edible wild plant that grows in bare open ground. Focus on LH flower area. Foraging concept.
  • Hairy bittercress Cardamine hirsuta flowering plant
  • Macro Bittercress flower Cardamine hirsuta
  • Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, plant before flowering
  • Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) in flower
  • Hairy Bitter-cress (cardamine hirsuta), close up of a single flowering stem showing the flowers and developing seed-pods with low depth of field.
  • Ingredients for a winter strir fry – mostly from the veregatble garden – centre frame Hairy Bittercress – Cardamine hirsuta
  • Hairy Bittercress
  • Hairy bittercress growing through wood chip mulch
  • Cuckoo flower 2
  • pale persicaria, pale smartweed, curlytop knotweed, or willow weed
  • Cardamine hirsuta, Hairy bittercress
  • Cardamine hirsuta (Hairy bittercress) growing through the gaps in a wooden fence
  • Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta
  • Hairy Bittercress Cardamine hirsuta Sussex UK
  • Tiny weed flower close up
  • Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) plant in spring.
  • Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, seedling with two early true leaves and cotyledons
  • exemplaar met bloemen en jonge vruchten
  • Cardamine hirsuta, 2_2013-02-14-152127 ZS PMax_8477924399_o Cardamine hirsuta, Beltsville, Maryland Cardamine hirsuta, 2_2013-02-14-15.21.27 ZS PMax
  • Cardamine hirsuta, 2
  • Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine asarifolia), Cruciferae.
  • Young flowering plant of hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta,
  • . Illustrations of the British flora: a series of wood engravings, with dissections, of British plants. Botany; Botany. 65. Cardamine pratensis, L. Meadow Bittercress, Ladies’ Sviock^ CilcboO’floiver. 66. Cardamine impatiens, L. Kfarroxu-leaved Bittercress.. 67. Cardamine hirsuta, L. Hairy Bittercress.. Please note that these images are extracted from scanned page images that may have been digitally enhanced for readability – coloration and appearance of these illustrations may not perfectly resemble the original work.. Fitch, W. H. (Walter Hood), 1817-1892; Smith, George Worthington, 1835-191
  • exemplaar met bloemen en jonge vruchten
  • Ingredients for a winter strir fry – mostly from the veregatble garden – nearest camera Hairy Bittercress – Cardamine hirsuta an
  • Cardamine hirsuta (Hairy Bbttercress) growing through fence
  • Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta
  • Overwintering stunted hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, plant rosette among stones and moss in a garden rockery, March
  • Young plants of hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, on soil
  • . Illustrations of the British flora: a series of wood engravings, with dissections, of British plants. Botany; Botany. 67. Cardamine hirsuta, L. Hairy Bittercress.. 68. Cardamine bnlbifera, Br. Dentaria bulb., L. Coralroot. C. Please note that these images are extracted from scanned page images that may have been digitally enhanced for readability – coloration and appearance of these illustrations may not perfectly resemble the original work.. Fitch, W. H. (Walter Hood), 1817-1892; Smith, George Worthington, 1835-1917; Bentham, George, 1800-1884. Handbook of the British flora. London, L. Reev
  • Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, seedling with two early true leaves and cotyledons
  • Ingredients for a winter strir fry – mostly from the veregatble garden – nearest camera Hairy Bittercress – Cardamine hirsuta an
  • Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta
  • Flowers of hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta,
  • Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, seedling with two early true leaves and cotyledons
  • Ingredients for a winter strir fry – mostly from the veregatble garden – centre frame Hairy Bittercress – Cardamine hirsuta
  • Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, young plant rosette, common garden weed
  • Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, annual weed flowering and setting seed, Berkshire, april
  • Hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, plant flowering in a garden rockery, Berkshire, March
  • Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) plant coming into flower on a gravel path

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Worst Winter Weeds: Hairy Bittercress

(This article was originally published on March 29, 2010. Your comments are welcome but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions or comments.)

Call it what you will – hairy bittercress, winter bittercress, hairy cress, popping cress – Cardamine hirsuta – is a weed that tries the most forgiving gardener’s patience. Growing worldwide (except in the Antarctic, this genus of the Brassicaceae family numbers more than 150 species, both annual and perennial. The plant is self-pollinating and in bloom throughout the year. It loves moist soil and grows aggressively under those conditions.

As the snow melts, tiny white, pink, or lavender flowers begin to appear. Yes, flowers. This tenacious weed is short-lived, which is good, you say. A life cycle of 6 weeks doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Think again – how many 6-week cycles are there in a year?
One of the biggest problems with bittercress is that, by the time you discover you have a problem, it’s almost too late to do anything about it. The first flowers appear in late February or early March, quickly form seed pods, and mature. If you touch those trigger-happy seed pods, it’s all over – the pods explode, distributing seeds over an area up to 36 inches around each plant. Those seeds will germinate and begin sprouting with a few days and the cycle begins again, only over a larger area. Small to medium size plants produce about 600 seeds, and larger plants can yield up to 1,000 seeds.
Hairy bittercress is not invasive enough to warrant using herbicides. As soon as new plants appear in February or March, begin pulling them; these are the offspring of the previous fall’s seed crop. Through the season, always pull the seedlings when you see them; they have shallow roots and come away quite easily; however, bits of root left behind are capable of re-rooting under optimum conditions. The key is to get the plants before they set seed, which happens quickly after blooming. Eradicating this weed from large areas is almost impossible, unless you can hoe and remove. Keeping bittercress out of the flower beds is a little easier, but requires diligent hand-weeding to stay ahead of the seed formation. The leaves release a pungent aroma when bruised.
Hairy bittercress is a problem in greenhouses and nurseries, so be sure to clear off the top 2 to 3 inches of soil before planting anything you purchase. Scoop the soil into a plastic bag and discard. Keep a close watch on newly planted containers, especially those that are positioned near flower beds. The propulsion factor of bittercress seeds can sneak new plants into your containers while you aren’t looking. Hairy bittercress is a real problem near flagstone patios or walks, brick work, or any hard-scaping that has space between the pieces. This weed does not need much to set down roots – even a small amount of sand between two bricks is plenty.
As mentioned before, at least the seedlings are easy to pull.

Q: I can’t seem to identify this weed and its properties. I have it in centipedegrass even though I put down fall and spring pre-emergent. How do I go about treating it?

A: It’s hairy bittercress. I’m surprised you got a picture of it before it bloomed. The little white flowers and spiky seed capsules make this weed easy to spot in February and March.

When the capsules dry out in a week or two, the slightest touch will cause them to burst open and scatter seed far and wide. ….leading to even MORE bittercress next year.

The best control after it sprouts is vigilant application of synthetic or organic weed killers.

Try to get the weedkiller ONLY on the bittercress leaves; the centipedegrass will be damaged otherwise.

Start spot-spraying in early February each year and the weed will be only a nuisance.

I believe pre-emergent is labelled for bittercress control..

See Hairy Bittercress

Jim D. notes “We have been growing and eating this plant for over 30 years. We stir fry them down like turnip greens. We call them Highland Creases in the country.
My reply: You may be eating the hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, I describe but I think you’re more likely eating upland cress, Barbarea verna, otherwise known as creasy salad, creasy greens, or highland creasy

More information here

Creasy Greens recipe

Tags For This Article: bittercress, centipede, creasy, weed control

THe GREEn insider

During this cool spring, you may have noticed a strange looking plant with white flowers, growing in your lawn. We’ll look at this common weed, what causes it, and how to get rid of it.

What is Hairy Bittercress?

Hairy Bittercress is a common weed that thrives in late winter & early spring. This cold loving weed is actually a member of the mustard family and is edible as a bitter herb. In Cleveland and Columbus this weed is easily identifiable, with white flowers on wiry green stems.

Hairy bittercress often grows in cool, damp, recently disturbed soil, making it most common in landscape beds and gardens. However, Weed Pro technicians are seeing it in a quite a number of lawns due to the high level of moisture and cooler spring.

Grows in Thin Grass Areas

While appearing in gardens and landscape beds, this winter annual weed often appears in lawns that have thin turf. A fast moving plant, Hairy Bittercress has a lifespan of 3-4 weeks before releasing thousands of quickly spreading seeds.

How do I get rid of Hairy Bittercress?

The good news is that Hairy Bittercress is a winter annual, which means that it will die out when the temperatures get warmer. However, it’s ugly now, and with typical Ohio weather, you never know when it may warm up.

Hairy bittercress will die out on its own, however the best defense is always a good offense. Seeing hairy bittercress in your lawn is an indication of a thin lawn, that needs to be thickened up.

Aeration & Overseeding

The best way to improve a thin lawn and to limit the amount of hairy bittercress in your lawn is to aerate and overseed your lawn. By creating thousands of tiny holes in your lawn, then overseeding, you’ll improve your existing turfs root system, allowing your turf to become thicker and stronger. This will not only eliminate hairy bittercress, but it will also eliminate many other weeds.

More Spring Lawn Care Tips

Seeding or sodding is just one of the issues you may face when preparing for the lawn care season. That’s why Weed Pro has put together one of the best spring lawn care guides in the industry. The best part is that it’s yours absolutely free by clicking on the link below!

Shaun Kanary has been a part of the Green Industry for the past 15 years. As the Director of Marketing for Weed Pro Lawn Care, a Cleveland and Columbus Lawn Care Service Provider, Shaun is a regular contributor to the Weed Pro Blog, and other industry magazine and blogs.
Shaun on Google+ Shaun on LinkedIn Shaun on Twitter

Hairy bittercress

Left unchecked, hairy bittercress can quickly spread to infest the whole garden. This weed can complete its lifecycle in three to four weeks to disperse thousands of seeds, all of which can germinate to release their own seeds in quick succession. Bittercress may be introduced as seed, seedlings or as plants in compost when buying new plants from nurseries or garden centres. It may also spread from neighbouring gardens or remain dormant at depth in the soil to be brought to the surface by cultivation. Plants are also able to overwinter.

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Symptoms

Small short-lived annual plants which spread rapidly by means of small seeds dispersed from spring-like seedpods.

Find it on

freshly-cultivated ground in borders, pots, paving, walls, vegetable plots

Organic

Remove young plants before they get a chance to flower and set seed. Pull them out individually by hand or hoe off young seedlings and remove from the soil surface. Avoid deep cultivation which brings up new seeds. Apply a mulch to the surface after weeding to prevent further germination.

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Chemical

Use contact weedkiller to kill seedlings and young plants before they grow and get a chance to flower.

Cardamine hirsuta
Hairy Bittercress
By Emma Erler, The Alice and J. Liddon Pennock, Jr. Endowed Horticulture Intern
This time of year there isn’t too much happening in the garden. Most plants have gone dormant for the winter. However, as the snow melts you may notice a low growing plant with a basal rosette of leaves. This is a common weed in the mustard family called hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta). Hairy bittercress is a winter annual, which means its seeds usually germinate in cool, moist weather. Seedlings emerge mainly in late summer or fall. They are frost hardy and will remain dormant through the winter until temperatures warm up. In early to mid-spring, hairy bittercress will resume growth, produce flowers, and go to seed. Plants die back as soon as hot weather arrives in late spring and summer.
As a seedling, hairy bittercress has simple kidney-shaped leaves. Mature plants have prominent basal rosettes of hairy, compound leaves with shallowly lobed kidney-shaped leaflets. Flowering stems emerge from the rosette and have only a few small leaves. Hairy bittercress flowers are very small (2-3 mm) in diameter with four white petals. The subsequent fruits are 1-2 cm long capsules that explosively disperse their seeds up to 3 meters from the plant.
The best way to control hairy bittercress in the garden is to remove it before it sets seed. Each plant is capable of producing many thousands of seeds, hence removing the plants before seeds are set will greatly control the population. Small populations can be easily hand pulled from the garden. In large areas, regular hoeing will prevent plants from flowering and going to seed.
For the adventurous gardener, hairy bittercress is an edible green. Tender leaves collected in early spring or late fall can add a peppery taste to salads.
As the winter progresses, keep an eye out for hairy bittercress and get ready to weed as the weather warms up!


Photos: Emma Erler

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