Random Plant: Cutleaf Toothwort

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Cutleaf toothwort on Big Fork Ridge. Photographed 04/11/2016 at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

Appearing in eastern woodlands in April and May, cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata, Brassicaceae) exhibits the four-petaled flower arrangement typical of members of the mustard family.  Its large flowers and relative abundance early in the season make it a favorite of insect pollinators.   It also seems to attract spiders that feed on the pollinators.

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Cutleaf toothwort on Big Fork Ridge. Photographed 04/11/2016 at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

The most obvious characteristic that sets cutleaf toothwort apart from other woodland mustards is the narrow and coarse-toothed form of the leaves.  The leaves are pretty distinct and make it easy to spot these plants even before they start to flower.

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Cutleaf toothwort on Big Fork Ridge. Photographed 04/11/2016 at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

Cutleaf toothwort is one of many plants known as a spring ephemeral. Spurred into action by increasing day length in early spring, these plants complete their life cycles in just a few weeks. By the time deciduous trees have leafed out in May, these plants have already gone to seed.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, National Parks, Organism Interactions, Random Plant and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Random Plant: Cutleaf Toothwort

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