Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cardamine concatenata (Cut-Leaf Toothwort)

In my last post, I labeled a flower as Dentaria laciniata (Cut-Leaf Toothwort).  In researching it for this post, I discovered that the scientific name had entirely changed to Cardamine concatenata.  Scientific names do not change that often, but it can happen.  Usually, the first person to describe a species gets to name it.  Sometimes, it will be discovered that a species was described earlier than anyone thought, so the name will change to the earlier one.  Other times, scientists realize that the species actually belongs in different genus or family than where it was originally placed.  That can result in a name change, too.  Only one of my books has caught up with this name change. 

C. concatenata blooms early in the spring, before most other plants have begun to flower.  It is found in rich woods in the eastern North America and is a member of the Brassicaceae family, more commonly known as the Mustard family. Like other members of the Mustard Family, the flowers have four petals.  The leaves are deeply divided and opposite on the plant's stem.  According to Peterson's Guide to Edible Wild Plants, C. concatenata both the leaves and roots are edible and make a rather peppery addition to salads (I haven't tried this). 

Pictures (click to enlarge):
 C. concatenata in Rock Creek Park in 2009.
Blooming in Harper's Ferry last weekend.
Blooms in Rock Creek Park in 2008.l  Although this isn't the sharpest picture, I included it because it shows the deeply divided leaves. 

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