CPC Plant Profile: Small-anther Bittercress
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Plant Profile

Small-anther Bittercress (Cardamine micranthera)

This shot of small-anthered bittercress shows the slender plant, growing 0.2 to 0.4 meters high, with four-petaled flowers. Photo Credit: Ron Lance
  • Global Rank: N/A
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Brassicaceae
  • State: NC, VA
  • Nature Serve ID: 145351
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/15/1995

This species was considered extinct for three decades, until its rediscovery in Stokes County, North Carolina in the mid-1980's. After this initial discovery, further searching led to the discovery of a total of 13 populations. The range of this species extends over two counties in the upper Piedmont region of North Carolina (NCA 1996). This species was thought extirpated from these counties in the 1950's due to conversion of this specie's habitat to pasture (USFWS 1989b). As of 1996, all remaining populations are very small, with several containing fewer than six individuals (NatureServe 2001) and all populations were located on private lands when this species was listed in 1989 (USFWS 1989b). The small anthered bittercress is a slender, perennial herb with fibrous roots and a single, sometimes branched stem that grows from 2 to 4 dm tall. Basal leaves have one or two pair of small lateral lobes while stem leaves are alternate and mostly unlobed. Blooming and fruiting occurs in April and May. Flowers have four white petals, six stamen, and small, round anthers. The fruit is a silique that contains brown seeds that are approximately 1 mm long. This species can be distinguished from its common relative, Cardamine rotundifolia, by its smaller flowers and siliques that are only half as long as those of C. rotundifolia. (USFWS 1989b)

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Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to North Carolina and Virginia and with 20-30 populations known; locally abundant at some sites. Some populations are in watersheds that have been severely altered by residential development and agricultural use, and at least some are threatened by continued conversion of habitat, encroachment of exotic species, runoff and livestock-related erosion and trampling

  • 01/01/2010

Conversion of land to pasture Logging Nonnative invasive species Flooding and scouring of stream banks Impoundment or channelization of stream corridors (USFWS 1989b)

  • 01/01/2010

There are nine small populations in Stokes Co., N.C. and four in the adjacent VA county (NCA 1996). Field surveys conducted by the Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation, Natural Heritage Program in April and May 1999 almost doubled the known Virginia occurrences from 7 to 13 and expanded population numbers in the known occurrences, tripling the number of known plants in Virginia to an estimated 6000. (Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation 1999)

  • 01/01/2010

The NC Arboretum has been attempting to cultivate this species and has learned that cuttings will not flower and that plants do not live long enough to flower more than once in containers (NCA 1996)

  • 01/01/2010

None known.

  • 01/01/2010

Research is needed to determine if seed production in the remaining populations is adequate to maintain the current population sizes, given this species dependence on seed production.

  • 01/01/2010

Germination studies to increase the number of plants in cultivation.


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Taxon Cardamine micranthera
Authority Rollins
Family Brassicaceae
CPC Number 754
ITIS 22803
Common Names small-anthered bitter-cress | streambank bittercress
Associated Scientific Names Cardamine micranthera
Distribution Stokes County, North Carolina and an adjacent county in Virginia (NCA 1996)
State Rank
State State Rank
North Carolina S2
Virginia S1

Wet, boggy soils of deciduous woodlands and moist to wet soils along the edge of small to intermediate sized streams (NCA 1996).

Ecological Relationships

None known.

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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