Hairy Bitter-cress

©Amy Lewis

Hairy bitter-cress

Scientific name: Cardamine hirsuta
Hairy bitter-cress is an edible weed of rocky places, walls, gardens and cultivated ground. Gathering wild food can be fun, but it's best to do it with an expert - come along to a Wildlife Trust event to try it.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 30cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

January to December

About

Hairy bitter-cress is a common, edible weed of rocky areas, walls, gardens and cultivated ground. Flowering almost all year-round, this plant self-pollinates; when the seeds are ripe they burst from their pods and can be dispersed up to a metre away in all directions, especially if the plants are shaken by the wind. New seedlings tend to grow in summer and early winter.

How to identify

Living up to its name, Hairy bitter-cress is small and hairy, with a rosette of leaves at its base and small white flowers present for most of the year.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

Looking like a miniature Water-cress, Hairy bitter-cress can also be added to salads. Another similar species, Wavy bitter-cress, is taller and often found on riverbanks, and in ditches and marshes.

How people can help

Gathering wild food can be a satisfying experience and provides a chance to learn about our native plants. However, if you do fancy giving it a go, remember that it is an offence to totally uproot a wild plant and please just take what you need, leaving some for the wild creatures, too. Don't eat anything you can't identify, either - it could make you very ill. To find out more about wild plants, both edible and not, why not come along to a Wildlife Trust event? From fungi forays to woodland walks, there's plenty of opportunities to learn more about your local patch.