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` Dentaria laciniata
Dentaria laciniata
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Now those taxonomists have gone toooo far!  Do you believe that they want to call my beloved harbinger of Spring,  Dentaria laciniata by the name Cardamine concatenata! Besides the fact that the worst weed in my life is a Cardamine,  better known as "Bittercress",      I can't find any rational reason for this name change.

Dentaria laciniata is one of the first plants to emerge in the Spring and grace the woods with their pure white flowers. The dark green filigreed foliage lasts well into early summer.  The common name of the genus is  "Toothwort". It acquired this moniker and the scientific name,  Dentaria (which means teeth in Latin) because of the irregular angular ribs,  or "teeth",  which are actually leaf scars from the previous seasons growth.  This is more apparent on the related species Dentaria diphylla, as Dentaria laciniata grows from a more tuberlike rootstock. As far as the common name for the genus,  "Pepper Root" goes,  it's said that Native Americans enjoyed the peppery taste of the root.  They also use the root medicinally,  although I haven't been able to find the exact medicinal attributes.

This is an extremely effortless plant to grow when given the rich woodland conditions that it seeks in its natural habitat,  and are pretty easy to replicate in the garden.  Before you know it,  you'll have a great colony of bright white flowers in early Spring.  Propagation is easy and automatic by seed.  By the way,  the brown seed pods are called silique and contain dark brown seeds that mature about 4 - 5 weeks after flowering.  The seeds can be collected and sown in pots or you can just let Mother Nature do her thing and save a bunch of work for yourself.

Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom -
Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom - Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision - Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division - Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class - Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Subclass - Dilleniidae
Order - Capparales
Family - Brassicaceae
Genus - Dentaria
Species - laciniata
Common name - genus - "Toothwort",  "Pepper Root"
Common name - species - "Cutleaf Toothwort"
Synonyms - Cardamine concatenata probably the correct name
Native of - Eastern US
USDA Hardiness Zone - zone 5, maybe 4?
Light preference - Full shade to light shade
Soil preference - Rich in organic matter
Moisture preference - Moist to average
Bloom time - Early Spring
Bloom color - White
Foliage - Medium green, laciniated
Spread - Groundcover
Height - 6" - 12"
Landscape uses - Groundcover in a shady or woodland garden
Medicinal uses - Nothing specific that I have found

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Last modified February 25, 2020