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

Bloodroot

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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