Cleveland Weeds – Hairy Bittercress

This is a post that relates to the Cleveland Weeds project.

In this post I am going to cover Hairy Bittercress

Click on image or here to enlarge

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Latin Name: Cardamine hirsuta
Common Names: Hairy Bittercress
Lifespan: Annual

Conditions it likes: It growns best in soils that are kept consistantly moist or wet and have been cultivated (i.e. tilled or moved around). It frequently will enter a gardener’s yard though a greenhouse purchased plants. Due to the fact the greenhouse grown plants are regularly watered in potting soil, this creates a perfect enviroment for these weeds to grow on the pot soil.

Spreading habits: Spread by seeds. It produces an explosive seed pod. If you touch the pod, it pops and shoots the seeds as far as 10 feet away.

Best way to eliminate it from your garden:

Organic: Weed vigorously in the spring and throughout the year before seed pods develop. If you have an infestantion after the seed pods develop do not try to weed. Cover the infested area with a cloth or tarp. Set the tarp over the area flat. Do not drag the tarp over the area when you are laying it down. You are trying to contain the explosive seed pod pops. Once the tarp is down, gentally move the tarp back and forth. This will disturb the seed pods and cause them to pop. The seeds will be contained by the tarp to that area. Remove the tarp, weed and then apply cornmeal to the infested area to act as a pre-emergent. Keep an eye on the area after this and weed vigorously at the first sign of growth. It is also helpful to make changes that will allow the area to dry out a bit, such as watering less frequently or correcting any drainage problems.

Non-Organic: Apply weed killer as soon as you see the plant. Add a pre-emergent to the area as a preventative measure. If seed pods have already developed, pre-emergent is a must. Spread the pre-emergent in an a 10′ radius of the weed.

Notes of interest: This is an edible weed. Try adding it to salads. It has a slightly citrusy flavor.

This gardener’s rating of this weed: Pain in the butt if it gets to the seed pod stage. I have seen it take over a newly seeded yard because of the exploding seed pods. But I have to admit, it is a pretty plant when it’s flowering.

2 thoughts on “Cleveland Weeds – Hairy Bittercress
  1. Barbara on

    I am so pleased, you are the only person to talk about the lovely plant which has taken over my very large gardens. At first we encouraged it and now it is everywhere! I welcome your suggestions on controlling it and can add another.
    I’ve purchased a serious flame weeder which incinerates the plant and kills the seeds.. takes a little nerve at first but I’ve had no mishaps or fires and it works well so far.
    Thanks for your posting


  2. Thanks for the good pic and description of this plant. It helped me easily identify it, as one grew in a pott under lights and looked very pretty, but I could tell it was a weed.


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