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.
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.
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.