Weed That Shoots Seeds

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Hairy bittercress is a winter annual weed that germinates in the cool moist conditions of late fall. Seed pods pop and fly everywhere when lightly touched. Hairy bittercress is an annual weed that can spread quickly. Cardamine hirsuta Hairy Bittercress is a winter annual broadleaf weed and is a member of the Brassicaceae or mustard family. Other common names include Bittercress, Flick Weed, Hoary Bittercress,

Weed That Shoots Seeds

Updated July 15, 2021

We continue to offer our full range of plant health care, lawn care, and tree care services throughout central New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

Business hours are back to normal (see our hours here), we take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and are always receptive to your preferences for personal interaction.

Updated April 29, 2020

As an essential business, we continue to operate under our normal business hours.

Our crews are working every day to remove and prune trees, perform safety inspections, spray for ticks and mosquitoes, apply lawn and tree treatments, and address any other aspects of tree, shrub, or lawn care.

We’re available 24/7 for emergency tree work, and we’re always available by phone or email to answer your questions or discuss any issues with your trees or lawn.

As a reminder, our arborists and crew members won’t ring your doorbell (we’ll text you when we arrive on your property). Anyone you interact with will be wearing a mask and staying at least 6 feet away from you. You can see more details below in our earlier update.

Thank you for your continued support during these difficult times. And, if you can, we encourage you to get outdoors and enjoy the spring flowers and new green leaves – we all need a little beauty in our lives these days.

Updated March 23, 2020

Under the Governor’s “stay-at-home” order on 03/22/20, tree care and tree work can continue as long as tree care businesses follow social distancing recommendations. As an “essential service”, we are working hard to make sure our customers’ trees are safe and well-maintained.

We take the health and safety of our customers and employees very seriously, and have consulted with the NJ Board of Tree Experts, International Society for Arboriculture, and the Tree Care Industry Association to make sure that we are following best practices. As a result, we’ve enacted the following additional precautions to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in our local communities.

On Your Property

When one of our arborists arrives to inspect your tree(s) and provide an estimate, they will call or text to let you know they’ve arrived (rather than ringing the doorbell). You can stay indoors and communicate by phone while our arborist is on site. If you’d prefer to come outside, we will ensure that the recommended 6-foot distance is maintained.

As always, proposals and work orders will be sent to you by email; we don’t provide hand-written estimates.

You can accept a proposal directly through the link in the email, through the Customer Portal on our website, or by calling the office.

When our crews are on your property, they work independently. You do not need to be home or have any direct contact with them.

Our Crews

We are closely monitoring all employees for any signs of illness. Each team member knows that they should go home immediately if they feel unwell, or stay home if they’re at all concerned. If anyone becomes ill, we will all follow the CDC’s recommendations.

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We’ve provided an abundance of alcohol wipes and latex gloves for each employee, are ensuring that they follow the recommended handwashing and disinfecting protocols, and have reinforced that they should maintain as much distance from each other as is practical while at work.

In the Office

In the office, Joy is working tirelessly to keep up with the spring demand and is continuing to schedule appointments for estimates. We’re experiencing a high volume of phone calls so ask for your patience as we try to get to everyone.

Scheduling and ongoing work have so far not been affected. If it becomes necessary to reschedule, we will let you know.

Hairy bittercress: A weed to watch out for

Hairy bittercress is an annual weed that can spread quickly.

Flowers and seed pods of hairy bittercress. Photo by Lori Imboden, MSU Extension.

Have you recently noticed plants with small, white flowers on the edges of your lawn, flowerbeds and rock pathways? During April and May, populations of the winter annual weed hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) become increasingly visible. Hairy bittercress has a low growing rosette similar in form to a dandelion. It raises its profile in early spring with the appearance of flowers and seeds on a vertical stem. Like many members of the mustard family, hairy bittercress sets seed prolifically. It grows quickly and a few plants or seeds can generate a more widespread infestation in even a year’s time.

The first true leaves of hairy bittercress are heart shaped. Photo by Erin Hill, MSU.

Hairy bittercress is a winter annual weed. Its seeds germinate in fall beginning as early as September. The first true leaves are heart-shaped, followed by compound leaves with two or more pairs of leaflets and a kidney shaped terminal leaflet. The leaves that emerge in the fall form a small rosette that will overwinter. Once the weather warms in spring, it sends up stalks of small, white flowers followed by slender seed pods known as siliques.

Hairy bittercress leaves have two or more pairs of leaflets and a kidney shaped terminal leaflet. Photo by Lori Imboden, MSU Extension.

Once the seed pods ripen, disturbing the pods can propel the seeds as far as 16 feet from the mother plant. This seed dispersal adds to the soil seed bank and primes the area for another infestation to emerge in early fall. After setting seed, the life cycle is complete and the plants die. Hairy bittercress and other winter annual weed species, like common chickweed and purple deadnettle, are not typically present during the summer months.

Once the seed pods ripen, disturbing the pods will send the seeds flying as far as 16 feet. Photo by Lori Imboden, MSU Extension.

Hairy bittercress is best managed mechanically when it is young. Remove it by hand, hoe or tillage in early fall or early spring before it sets seed. If plants are flowering, composting is discouraged as seeds may develop. To manage this weed using herbicides, the proactive approach would be to use a pre-emergence herbicide in the late summer (late August to early September) to target the plants at the time of germination and prevent successful emergence.

If plants have already emerged, applying a post-emergence herbicide to actively growing plants before seedpods form may be effective. If using an herbicide, be certain it contains an active ingredient that will target this weed. Always read and follow all labeled instructions to increase effectiveness and prevent personal or environmental harm.

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Cardamine hirsuta

Hairy Bittercress is a winter annual broadleaf weed and is a member of the Brassicaceae or mustard family. Other common names include Bittercress, Flick Weed, Hoary Bittercress, Lamb’s Cress, Land Cress, Shot Weed, and Springcress. The genus name, Cardamine, is Greek for “Kardamon,” and translated means “cress.” The species name, hirsuta, is Latin and means”hairy.” This is about the tiny hairs on its leaves and stems.

The plant is native to Europe and Asia. It has been introduced in most of all other continents including North America, South America, Africa, and Australia. Hairy Bittercress is typically one of the first weeds to appear in spring. It may be seen in lawns, parks, gardens, and paved areas. It is capable of growing year-round when suitable environmental conditions are met. The seeds germinate in the fall or winter. Typically they are dormant in cold weather, and they resume their growth in the spring and produce more seeds. It has a 12-week lifecycle. They can quickly invade sparsely planted lawns or poorly mulched gardens. It is commonly found in sunny, damp, or disturbed soil.

The stems are erect, branched, and 3-10 inches tall. The root is fibrous and shallow. In the spring, clusters of tiny white flowers emerge that have cross-shaped petals on the ends of the stem. The small green leaves are mostly on the lower portion of the stem and form a flat rosette. Tiny hairs are on the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves. The fruits appear between March and May. They are siliquas or long narrow seed pods rods standing upright around the flower. When they mature, seeds are dispersed up to several feet from the plant. Each plant may produce 600 to 1000 seeds.

The weed quickly becomes prolific in the garden and is best controlled by prevention. Hand weeding and adequate mulching of garden beds are helpful. Frequent mowing in the early spring removes flowers before seeds develop. Selecting the correct turf grasses that can develop a dense ground cover is important. Proper fertilizing, mowing, and watering will encourage lawn growth and reduce weed establishment. If these measures fail, various pre-emergent or post-emergent herbicides may be used.

Hairy Bittercress flowers and leaves are edible and valuable nutrients. Although the name suggests that they may taste bitter, they actually have a mild peppery taste. A few sprigs may be added to salads, salsas, and pesto. The flowers are tougher to chew.

These plants are a food source for spring azure (Celatrina ladon) and falcate orange-tip caterpillars (Anthocharis midea). Hairy bittercress may also host aphids, whiteflies, and mites. Bumblebees are attracted to Hairy Bittercress for nectar and pollen. The weed attracts bees in the spring when other flowers are sparse. Early butterflies are also attracted to the tiny flowers.

Whole plant Kerry Wixted CC BY-NC 2.0 Whole plant Harry Rose CC BY 2.0 Leaf Harry Rose CC BY 2.0 Flower Harry Rose CC BY 2.0 Spider living on seed pod Stanze CC-BY-SA 2.0 Plant Kira Sims CC0 Seed Calla Veazie CC0 Plant Calla Veazie CC0 Immature Seedpod Kira Sims CC0 Seedling Kira Sims CC0 Form (Cabarrus County,NC)-Late Winter Hope Duckworth CC BY 4.0

  • Attributes: Genus: Cardamine Species: hirsuta Family: Brassicaceae Life Cycle: Annual Recommended Propagation Strategy: Seed Country Or Region Of Origin: Eurasia Distribution: North America: Eastern and Southern US, West coast of US, Western and Eastern Canada; South America: Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, Jamaica, Uruguay, and Venezuela; Western and Southern Australia, New Zealand; Japan; South Africa Wildlife Value: Butterflies and bees are attracted to flowers for nectar and pollen. Edibility: Hairy Bittercress is an edible weed that has a mild peppery taste. A few sprigs can be added to a salad to add a bite. The flowers are edible, but they are tough to chew. The tender leaves are sources of Vitamin C, Ca+, Mg+, and Beta-carotene. Dimensions: Height: 0 ft. 3 in. – 0 ft. 10 in. Width: 0 ft. 3 in. – 0 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Annual Edible Weed Habit/Form: Dense Growth Rate: Rapid Maintenance: High
  • Cultural Conditions: Light: Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day) Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours) Soil Texture: Clay Loam (Silt) Sand Soil pH: Acid (<6.0) Alkaline (>8.0) Neutral (6.0-8.0) Soil Drainage: Moist NC Region: Coastal Mountains Piedmont USDA Plant Hardiness Zone: 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit: Fruit Color: Brown/Copper Green Purple/Lavender Red/Burgundy Display/Harvest Time: Spring Fruit Type: Siliqua Fruit Length: < 1 inch Fruit Width: < 1 inch Fruit Description: The fruits appear as smooth, purplish-green siliqua standing upright around the flower. They turn reddish-brown when they mature. They measure 3/4 to 1 inch long. When dried the pods explode and release seeds up to 3 feet. The seeds germinate in the fall. They overwinter n a vegetative state. In the spring they flower and produce more seeds. Reportedly, each plant can produce 600-1000 seeds.
  • Flowers: Flower Color: White Flower Inflorescence: Raceme Flower Value To Gardener: Edible Flower Bloom Time: Spring Flower Shape: Cross Flower Petals: 4-5 petals/rays Flower Size: < 1 inch Flower Description: The blooms appear in clusters of white, tiny, 4 petaled, cross-shaped flowers. They typically bloom in spring from late April to early June.
  • Leaves: Leaf Color: Green Leaf Feel: Glossy Smooth Soft Leaf Value To Gardener: Edible Leaf Type: Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately) Simple Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Shape: Reniform Leaf Margin: Dentate Lobed Hairs Present: Yes Leaf Length: < 1 inch Leaf Width: < 1 inch Leaf Description: The leaves are reniform in shape, alternate, and pinnate with a terminal leaflet. They have 2-6 pairs of smaller lateral leaflets and a rosette of larger basal leaves. The surface of the leaves is glabrous to pubescent with tiny hairs on the upper and lower surface. They are green in color and measure less than 1/2 inch to 1 inch. The margins of the leaf are lobed and shallowly toothed.
  • Stem: Stem Color: Green Stem Is Aromatic: No Stem Form: Straight Stem Surface: Smooth (glabrous) Stem Description: The stems are erect, branching, and measure 3-10 inches tall. Their surfaces are glabrous to sparsely hairy.
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Container Lawn Meadow Slope/Bank Walkways Woodland Attracts: Bees Butterflies Specialized Bees Problems: Weedy
Cardamine hirsuta

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