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Narrow Leaf Bittercress

Narrow leaf bittercress
(Cardamine impatiens)

Herbaceous annual or biennial in the mustard family, growing over two feet tall. Produces thousands of seeds that are ejected from slender siliques (seed pods) when mature.


Regulated areas of Narrow leaf bittercress
This species is Prohibited (Red counties)

Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: Bushy rockcress
  • Scientific names: Cardamine impatiens var. impatiens, Cardamine impatiens var. pectinata

Ecological threat:

  • Invades forests, meadows, wetlands, streamside habitats and floodplains.
  • Seeds extremely resilient to harsh conditions, germinating after deep freezing and exposure to standing water.
  • Seeds are easily spread by human activity.

Classification in Wisconsin: Prohibited

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for narrow leaf bittercress was based upon this literature review developed by the department.


Leaves: Basal rosettes are deeply divided. Leaves contain 3-11 round-lobed leaflets. Stem leaves are opposite. Leaves and stems are hairless.

Flowers: Self-pollinating. Small white flowers bloom in late spring through late summer.

Fruits & seeds: Long slender siliques (seed pods), produce prolific amounts of seeds (over 5,500 seeds on an individual plant) that eject when mature.

Roots: Taproot with shallow fibrous rootlets.

Similar species: Narrow leaf bittercress can be mistaken for many other species in the mustard family.


Counties in WI where this species has been reported (as of April 2013). Both vouchered and unvouchered reports included.

Currently, there are no reports of narrow leaf bittercress in WI. Have you seen it? Send us a report.



  • Plants have shallow root system making hand pulling easy and effective. Plants in flower and seed should be bagged and disposed.
  • Be sure to control plants before they mature to reduce spreading infestations.
  • Clean all boots and equipment to reduce spreading seed.


  • Bittercress is resistant to many types of herbicide. Spraying with glyphosate gives some longer lasting control.


View narrow leaf bittercress pictures in our photo gallery!


Sources for content:

  • Minnesota Wildflowers Website
  • Invasive Plant Atlas of New England

Links for More Information

Last revised: Friday May 31 2019