Perennial herb 20 - 40 cm tall Stem: upright, shortly hairy in upper parts. Flowers: in a loose, branched cluster, long-stalked, white to pink, 1 - 2 cm long. Sepals four, brownish green, to 3 mm long. Petals four, much longer than sepals. Stamens six. Fruit: a narrow pod, upright, ascending, 2 - 4 cm long, cylindrical. Rhizome: thick, constricted at intervals. The segments are 2 - 3 cm long. Basal leaves: tend to fall off before flowering. Stem leaves: usually three, whorled, above mid-stem, stalked, deeply lobed into three narrowly oblong to lance-shaped segments (lateral segments often divided, giving the appearance of a five-segmented leaf), lobes 6 cm long, 1 cm wide, often sharply toothed.
Similar species: The similar Cardamine diphylla differs by having only two nearly opposite leaves and leaf segments that are broadly egg-shaped.
Flowering: mid-March to late May
Habitat and ecology: Locally abundant in mesic woods.
Occurence in the Chicago region: native
Notes: The tooth-like projections on the underground stems give this plant its name.
Etymology: Cardamine comes from the Greek word kardamon, which refers to plants in the cress family. Concatenate means "linking together."
Rhizome constricted at intervals, the segments 2-3 cm; stems 2-4 dm, shortly spreading-hairy above; basal and cauline lvs similar, the former usually absent at anthesis, the latter typically in a whorl of 3 above the middle of the stem, deeply 3-parted or 3-foliolate, the segments linear or lanceolate, subentire to laciniate-toothed, the lateral segments often, the terminal segment sometimes deeply bifid, the whole lf appearing 5-parted; sep 5-8 mm; pet pale lavender, 12-19 mm; frs 2-4 cm; 2n=128, 240, 256. Moist rich woods; Me. and s. Que. to Minn., s. to Fla., La., and Okla. Apr., May, a little earlier than nos. 1 [Cardamine diphylla (Michx.) A. W. Wood] and 5. (Dentaria laciniata) [Cardamine angustata O. E. Schulz] Some possible hybrids with no. 5 have been called Dentaria anomala Eames.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.