There are two closely related species of Bittercress. They look superficially very similar and share the same properties. There is not a great deal of difference between the two species and many people will be content to know them simply as Bittercress.
They are both members of the Mustard family, they are both edible and generally they are both regarded as a weed by gardeners.
Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsuta) is a small winter annual, the leaves are green during the winter months and it flowers in early spring.
The plant is characterised by the seed capsules that emerge from the centre of the flowers.
Reddish at first they turn green as they ripen. The seeds are arranged inside like peas in a pod and the pods burst explosively throwing the seeds far from the plant. The seeds germinate in the autumn and winter as green leaves.
Hairy Bittercress has four stamens.
These two species of Bittercress are both native to the UK and they can hybridize, making any distinction very difficult. They can also hybridize with another close relative, the beautiful Cardamine pratensis. (I would call that “getting lucky”)
Species: Cardamine hirsuta
Species: Cardamine flexuosa