CPC Plant Profile: Kentucky Gladecress
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Plant Profile

Kentucky Gladecress (Leavenworthia exigua var. laciniata)

© Adam B. 2018 Photo Credit: © Adam B. 2018
  • Global Rank: T1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Threatened
  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • State: KY
  • Nature Serve ID: 149358
  • Date Inducted in National Collection:

Leavenworthia exigua var. laciniata, or Kentucky Glade Cress, is a small (height = 2-4 inches) winter annual in the mustard family. Seeds germinate and grow into rosettes with lobed leaves on long, skinny stalks in the fall. Rosettes persist over the winter, then bloom between February and April. Kentucky Glade Cress has small (1/10 - 3/10 of an inch wide) white or light purple flowers. Seeds are produced in April and May, then the plant dies. Kentucky Glade Cress was listed as Federally Threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2014. It received listing protection because of the loss of its habitat to things like development or roads, the degradation of its habitat by factors such as grazing and human-use, its extremely small range, low genetic diversity and small population sizes. (Jacobson 2013, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission 2014, NatureServe 2018)

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Taxon Leavenworthia exigua var. laciniata
Authority Rollins
Family Brassicaceae
CPC Number 2455
ITIS 528701
Common Names Glade-cress | Tennessee gladecress | Kentucky gladecress
Associated Scientific Names Leavenworthia exigua var. laciniata | Leavenworthia exigua | Leavenworthia exigua var. exigua | Leavenworthia exigua var. lutea Rollins
Distribution Kentucky Glade Cress' range is restricted to Kentucky. Surveys conducted between 1990 and 2004 found that over the course of 14 years, 76% of occurrences had declined in quality or been lost. As of 2013, there were only 61 known occurrences, and 43 (70%) of those were deemed to be poor quality.
(Jacobson 2013, NatureServe 2018)
State Rank
State State Rank
Kentucky S1S2

Kentucky Glade Cress is primarily found in limestone cedar glades, a type of shallow soiled, dry short-grass grassland. It is also found in similar anthropogenic habitats, such as lawns.
(Jacobson 2013, NatureServe 2018)

Ecological Relationships

Kentucky Glade Cress may be negatively affected by grazing in limestone cedar glades, which often means plants are eaten before they have a chance to set seed. It also seems be a poor competitor against the grasses, such as tall fescue, that are often added to glades when they are used as pastures. It also poorly competes against woody species, particularly Eastern Red Cedar, that encroach into the open glade habitats when fire or other disturbances are suppressed.
(Jacobson 2013)

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting
Louisville Metro Parks Kentucky Reinforcement 2020

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