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Spring Ephemerals of Ohio: Purple Cress.

April 4, 2015

Purple Cress

This post is part of a continuing series of the spring ephemeral wildflowers of Ohio- here’s previous posts:

Spring Beauty

Virginia Bluebells


Spring Ephemerals are woodland wildflowers that bloom for a relatively brief time in early to mid spring before trees get fully leaved.  They take advantage of the sunny conditions while they can, and fade away once the leafy canopy is fully developed (making less energy available to them).  These wildflowers are encouraging signs of nature’s bounty stirring beneath the surface of winter’s old leaf litter.

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Purple Cress is perhaps the earliest spring ephemeral I regularly see in the Ohio woods.  I’ve seen it from March 20th to the beginning of May.

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There is a cluster of light purple or white flowers on top of the plant, almost looking like miniature bluebells dangling down before they unfurl.

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Here’s what the flowers look like when fully deployed- as a member of the Mustard family, they have 4 petals.

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Take a look at the distinctively-shaped leaves that clasp the stem in an alternating pattern.  They remind me of tongues.  The stem is slightly hairy.

Spring Cress is a closely related species with smooth stems and white blooms.  Both of these species are among the earliest spring ephemerals out in the woods- maybe you can see them now where you live.  They are a hint of the warm weather flower show to come!

And now, as a bonus, one last look at all of that snow that finally went away in early March- are you glad it’s gone? 🙂

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2015 12:15 pm

    I think even the snowmen were tired of the cold! Love the delicate spring flowers, first signs of life returning. Happy Easter!

  2. April 4, 2015 1:54 pm

    Dear Tracy, Lovely – thank you and Happy Easter

  3. April 4, 2015 6:05 pm

    I am glad that things are growing at last.

  4. April 5, 2015 10:26 am

    Lovely pics! I am certainly glad to see the last of the snow, and the gales, too. The sun is warm today. That purple cress looks the same as our ‘lady’s smock’ which should be coming out soon.

    • April 5, 2015 10:32 pm

      The warm weather can stay as long as it likes this year, Jo! Purple Cress does indeed look like Lady’s Smock- interesting how often that happens!

  5. April 5, 2015 4:26 pm

    Such lovely little flowers.


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