Cutleaf Toothwort

Dentaria laciniata or Cardamine concatenata

Cutleaf toothwort
Cutleaf toothwort

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.

8 thoughts on “Cutleaf Toothwort

  1. Mollie Messimer turned me on to your site last year and I will definitely enjoy it again this year!. Cutleaf Toohwort is very common where i live on the south side of House Mountain in Rockbridge County, VA.

    Any morels yet? none here so far…

    Larry Evans

    1. Hi Larry,

      Glad you are following along. Mollie’s place up in Lexington is a fabulous place for spring wildflowers. I miss going up there!
      No morels yet, although I’ve been scouting almost everyday. It just seems like they should be there already, but I guess they are just taking their time this year. Maybe we’ll all be surprised when they finally come up in droves! Hope so!

  2. My walking group saw lots of Cutleaf Toothwort emerging in the woods around Monticello Trail in Charlottesville, VA on Monday, March 13. The blooms have not opened yet.

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