Dentaria laciniata or Cardamine concatenata
The leaves of this early spring wildflower occur in distinctive whorls of three. Each leaflet is deeply cut or “toothed”, sometimes so much so that it looks like there are five leaflets. Clusters of white to pinkish flowers are born at the top of the plant; each flower has four petals and tends to “nod” downward. Individual plants have an overall slender appearance and reach about 8-12 inches in height.
Cutleaf toothwort is in the Mustard family, but unlike most mustards, toothwort prefers to live in the forests. It is one of the first plants to come up on the forest floor and like many of the other spring ephemerals, it flowers and goes to seed before the trees fully leaf out.
The fleshy roots (rhizomes) and leaves of this plant are edible and have a peppery taste, hence the common names Pepper Root and Wild Horseradish. Historical medicinal uses included treatments for colds and toothaches.