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Common Whitlowgrass

Draba verna

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Brassicaceae (Cabbage)
Also in this family:
Alpine Pennycress, Alpine Rock-cress, American Wintercress, Annual Wall Rocket, Austrian Yellowcress, Awlwort, Bastard Cabbage, Black Mustard, Bristol Rock-cress, Charlock, Common Scurvygrass, Coralroot, Creeping Yellowcress, Cuckooflower, Dame's-violet, Danish Scurvygrass, Dittander, Early Wintercress, Eastern Rocket, English Scurvygrass, Evergreen Candytuft, False London Rocket, Field Pennycress, Field Pepperwort, Flixweed, Garden Arabis, Garden Candytuft, Garden Cress, Garden Radish, Garden Rocket, Garlic Mustard, Glabrous Whitlowgrass, Gold of Pleasure, Great Yellowcress, Greater Cuckooflower, Greater Periwinkle, Greater Swinecress, Hairy Bittercress, Hairy Rock-cress, Hairy Rocket, Hairy Whitlowgrass, Hedge Mustard, Hoary Cress, Hoary Mustard, Hoary Stock, Hoary Whitlowgrass, Honesty, Horseradish, Hutchinsia, Hybrid Watercress, Intermediate Periwinkle, Isle of Man Cabbage, Large Bittercress, Lesser Swinecress, London Rocket, Lundy Cabbage, Marsh Yellowcress, Mountain Scurvygrass, Narrow-fruited Watercress, Narrow-leaved Bittercress, Narrow-leaved Pepperwort, Northern Rock-cress, Northern Yellowcress, Oilseed Rape, Perennial Rocket, Perennial Wall Rocket, Perfoliate Pennycress, Pinnate Coralroot, Purple Rock-cress, Pyrenean Scurvygrass, Rock Whitlowgrass, Russian Rocket, Scottish Scurvygrass, Sea Kale, Sea Radish, Sea Rocket, Sea Stock, Shepherd's Cress, Shepherd's Purse, Small-flowered Wintercress, Smith's Pepperwort, Steppe Cabbage, Swede, Sweet Alyssum, Tall Rocket, Thale Cress, Tower Mustard, Treacle Mustard, Trefoil Cress, Turnip, Wall Whitlowgrass, Wallflower, Wallflower Cabbage, Warty Cabbage, Watercress, Wavy Bittercress, White Mustard, Wild Cabbage, Wild Candytuft, Wild Radish, Wild Turnip, Wintercress, Woad, Yellow Whitlowgrass
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
10 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, heathland, lawns, mountains, roadsides, rocky places, sand dunes, walls, wasteland.

White, 4 petals
An annual flower. Tiny, white flowers growing in tight clusters. Each flower has 4 deeply cleft petals. The 4 to 6 stamens have yellow pollen.
Flattened to oval pods.
Lanceolate, hairy and sometimes toothed near the ends. On close inspection, the leaves have minute dimples. All leaves are contained within a basal rosette.
Other Names:
Early Whitlow-grass, Nailwort, Shadflower, Spring Draba, Spring Whitlowgrass, Vernal Whitlow Grass.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Draba verna, also known as Common Whitlowgrass, Spring Whitlowgrass, or Vernal Whitlowgrass is an annual flowering plant in the mustard family. It is native to Eurasia and has been introduced to eastern and western North America. It is a very polymorphic species, with a variety of different genetic forms. The species is hermaphrodite, meaning it has both male and female reproductive organs. It flowers in spring, usually in March or April, with small white or yellowish flowers. The plant has a taproot, and its leaves are alternate, deeply lobed, and toothed. The fruits are small, round pods. The plant is weedy and can easily spread in disturbed areas.


Common Whitlowgrass (Draba verna) is a small, annual flowering plant that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It is commonly found in North America, Europe, and Asia, and is known for its delicate, white or pink flowers that bloom in the spring.

This plant is commonly referred to as "whitlowgrass" because it was traditionally used to treat Whitlow, a painful infection that affects the fingertips. Despite its name, common whitlowgrass is not used for medicinal purposes today, but it is still appreciated for its beauty and for its ecological importance.

In the wild, common whitlowgrass grows in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, and rocky slopes. It is a hardy plant that can tolerate a range of soil types, from well-drained to moist and even rocky or sandy soils. It also has a good tolerance to drought and can withstand some level of disturbance, making it a good option for gardeners looking to incorporate low-maintenance plants into their landscape.

One of the most striking features of common whitlowgrass is its delicate, white or pink flowers. The flowers grow in clusters, each with four petals that are frilly and feathery. They are not very large, typically measuring only a few millimeters in diameter, but they are numerous, and they create an eye-catching display when they are in full bloom.

In addition to its ornamental value, common whitlowgrass is also important for its ecological significance. The plant provides food and habitat for a variety of insects, including bees, butterflies, and moths. This makes it a valuable addition to any garden that is looking to support a thriving ecosystem.

Common whitlowgrass is a versatile and hardy plant that is well worth considering for any gardener looking to add a touch of beauty and ecological significance to their landscape. Its delicate flowers, tolerance to a range of growing conditions, and ability to support a variety of wildlife make it a valuable asset for any garden.

Another benefit of growing common whitlowgrass is its low maintenance requirements. This plant is easy to grow and requires little to no special care. Once established, it can grow and spread on its own, providing a carpet of delicate flowers year after year. Gardeners can simply plant the seeds in the spring and allow the plant to grow and bloom without much fuss.

Common whitlowgrass also has a compact growth habit, making it an excellent option for planting in rock gardens, as an edging plant, or in small spaces such as window boxes or containers. Its delicate flowers can complement other spring-blooming plants such as crocuses, tulips, or daffodils, adding a layer of beauty and texture to any garden.

For gardeners who are looking for a plant that is both beautiful and beneficial, common whitlowgrass is a great choice. It provides a colorful show of delicate flowers in the spring, and it supports a variety of wildlife, making it an asset to any garden. So, if you're looking for a low-maintenance, hardy, and beautiful plant, consider adding common whitlowgrass to your garden this spring.

Common whitlowgrass can also be used for erosion control on slopes or in areas that are prone to soil erosion. Its extensive root system helps to hold soil in place, making it an excellent option for planting in areas that need to be stabilized. Additionally, its tolerance to a range of soil types makes it a great choice for planting on challenging sites where other plants may struggle to thrive.

Another advantage of common whitlowgrass is its versatility. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade, and it can tolerate a range of temperatures, making it suitable for planting in a variety of climates. It is also easy to propagate, making it simple to create a large patch of this beautiful plant in your garden.

In conclusion, common whitlowgrass is an excellent choice for any gardener looking for a low-maintenance, versatile, and beautiful plant. Its delicate flowers, hardiness, and ability to support a variety of wildlife make it a valuable asset to any garden. Whether you're planting in a small container, a rock garden, or a large landscape, common whitlowgrass is sure to bring beauty and ecological benefits to your outdoor space.


Common Whitlowgrass filmed along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal on the 12th March 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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