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Cardamine bulbifera

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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, Common Whitlowgrass, 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:
45 centimetres tall
Gardens, hedgerows, meadows, parks, riverbanks, riversides, roadsides, woodland.

Purple, 4 petals
Flowers appear in compact clusters and have pale purple, well-spaced petals. Flowers are sometimes white. The flowers are 2 to 3cm across. Insect pollinated.
The fruit is a cylindrical pod. The fruit do not always ripen in Britain. The seeds ripen from May to July.
A spreading perennial plant with dark green leaves. The lower leaves are pinnate and have 1 to 7 toothed leaflets. Dark purple bulbils are produced at the bases of leaves along the upper stems. The leaves are also stalked and alternate along the stems on both sides.
Cardamine bulbifera, commonly known as Coralroot, produces elongated seed pods containing small, round seeds. The fruit of this plant is slender and cylindrical in shape, typically varying in length, and holds numerous tiny seeds within each pod. These seed pods develop after the flowering period, forming along the stems and eventually dispersing seeds for propagation.
Other Names:
Bulb-bearing Bittercress, Bulb-bearing Toothwort, Bulbous Toothwort, Common Toothwort, Coral Root, Coral Root Bittercress, Coral Wort, Coral-root Bittercress, Tooth Violet, Toothcress.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Cardamine bulbifera, also known as bulb-bearing bittercress or bulbous toothwort, is a plant species in the Brassicaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and is also found in parts of North America. The plant is a perennial herb with hairy stems and leaves, and produces small white or pink flowers in the spring. It gets its common name from the fact that it produces small, bulb-like structures (called "bulbils") on its stems and leaves. Cardamine bulbifera is often found growing in moist, shaded areas such as woodlands, and is sometimes grown in gardens for its attractive flowers. The leaves and flowers of the plant are edible and have a spicy, mustard-like flavor, and have been used traditionally in herbal medicine.


Coralroot: An Enigmatic Wildflower

Have you ever come across a wildflower that looks like it's straight out of a fairy tale? Meet Coralroot (Cardamine bulbifera), a stunning, yet elusive, wildflower that grows in the forests of North America. This flower, also known as the bulb-bearing toothwort, is a species of flowering plant in the mustard family and is known for its unique coral-like root structures and delicate white or pink blooms.

Coralroot is a native plant species found in hardwood forests, especially in areas with rich soils and abundant moisture. It typically blooms in early spring, usually between April and June, and its delicate flowers can range in color from white to pale pink. The plant grows to be about 12 to 18 inches tall and is characterized by its basal rosette of leaves, which are green and shiny, and its distinctive coral-like roots.

One of the most interesting features of Coralroot is its root structure. The root is often described as being bright orange, but can also be yellow, red, or even purple. The root is also fleshy, making it look like a miniature coral reef. This root structure is not only beautiful but also serves an important function for the plant. The root stores nutrients, allowing the plant to survive in its forest habitat, even during periods of drought.

Despite its stunning beauty, Coralroot is not well-known, and it is considered a rare species in many parts of its range. It is listed as endangered in several states and provinces, including Ohio, Indiana, and Ontario. This is due to several factors, including habitat destruction, collection for horticultural purposes, and the introduction of non-native species that compete for resources and light.

Coralroot is also an important species for wildlife. Its flowers provide nectar for pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Additionally, the plant's seeds and leaves are eaten by several species of wild mammals and birds, making it a valuable food source for these animals.

Coralroot is a unique and beautiful wildflower that deserves to be appreciated and protected. If you're lucky enough to come across this plant in the wild, take a moment to admire its delicate flowers and its unusual coral-like root structures.

In terms of its cultural significance, Coralroot has been used for various purposes by indigenous peoples in North America. The plant's root was used by some Native American tribes as a traditional medicine for various ailments, including respiratory problems and digestive issues.

In addition to its medicinal uses, the plant has also been used for food by some Native American tribes. The root of the plant was roasted and eaten, or ground into a flour to be used in cooking. This flour was valued for its high nutritional content, as well as its flavor, which was described as nutty and sweet.

Despite its cultural and ecological importance, Coralroot is facing a number of threats. As mentioned earlier, habitat destruction is one of the primary threats to the species, as many of the hardwood forests where it grows are being cleared for agriculture and development. Additionally, the collection of the plant for horticultural purposes has also had a significant impact on populations, as the removal of individual plants can cause entire populations to decline.

To help protect this species, it is important to take steps to conserve its habitat, including the protection of hardwood forests and the restoration of degraded areas. Additionally, the collection of Coralroot for horticultural purposes should be regulated, and wild populations should only be harvested sustainably, if at all.

In conclusion, Coralroot is a beautiful and unique wildflower that has a lot to offer in terms of its cultural, ecological, and medicinal significance.

If you're interested in growing Coralroot in your own garden, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, it is important to note that Coralroot is a slow-growing plant and can take several years to reach maturity. Secondly, it is best to grow the plant in a shaded area, as it prefers dappled light and moist soil.

When it comes to planting Coralroot, it is best to do so in the fall, as this allows the plant to establish its roots before the growing season begins. It is also important to plant the root ball at the same depth it was growing in the wild, and to water the plant thoroughly after planting.

In terms of care, Coralroot is a low-maintenance plant that does not require a lot of fertilization or pruning. However, it is important to keep the soil moist, as the plant does not tolerate drought well. It is also recommended to mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

In addition to growing Coralroot in your own garden, you can also help to protect this species by supporting conservation efforts in your area. This can include participating in local volunteer groups, supporting organizations that work to protect hardwood forests, and spreading awareness about the importance of this species.

Finally, if you do come across Coralroot in the wild, it is important to leave it there, as the removal of individual plants can have a significant impact on populations. Instead, take a moment to appreciate its beauty and learn about its significance, and then help to spread the word about this incredible wildflower.

Facts About Coralroot

30 facts about the Cardamine bulbifera plant (Coralroot):

  1. Plant Family: Cardamine bulbifera belongs to the Brassicaceae family, commonly known as the mustard family.
  2. Common Names: It is known by various names such as Coralroot, Coral-root bittercress, and Coralroot Toothwort.
  3. Habitat: Typically found in woodlands, hedgerows, and damp areas across Europe and Asia.
  4. Appearance: The plant features small, delicate white to pale pink flowers in clusters.
  5. Bulbils: It reproduces through small bulbils that form in the leaf axils, aiding in its propagation.
  6. Edibility: While considered edible, it should be consumed in moderation due to its mildly bitter taste and potential toxicity in large quantities.
  7. Medicinal Uses: Traditionally, it has been used in herbal medicine for its diuretic and cleansing properties.
  8. Historical Significance: It has historical mentions in traditional herbal remedies.
  9. Growth: It grows from a tuberous rootstock.
  10. Invasive Potential: In some regions, it's considered invasive due to its rapid spread.
  11. Flowering Season: The flowering period generally occurs in spring.
  12. Pollination: The flowers attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.
  13. Herbaceous Plant: Coralroot is a herbaceous perennial, meaning it dies down in the winter and regrows in the spring.
  14. Culinary Use: In some cultures, it's used as a flavoring in salads or cooked as a vegetable.
  15. Conservation Status: In certain areas, it might be considered endangered due to habitat loss.
  16. Seed Dispersal: It relies on explosive seed dispersal to spread its seeds.
  17. Cultivation: It can be grown in gardens as an ornamental plant.
  18. Mycorrhizal Relationship: It often forms a mycorrhizal relationship with fungi in the soil, benefiting both the plant and the fungus.
  19. Herbal Properties: Some sources attribute antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to parts of the plant.
  20. Folklore: It might have folklore or historical myths associated with it in some cultures.
  21. Wildlife Habitat: It provides habitat and food for various insects and small creatures.
  22. Climate Preferences: It tends to prefer cool, damp environments.
  23. Botanical Classification: It is classified as a dicotyledonous plant.
  24. Adaptation: Its ability to propagate from bulbils aids in its adaptability to different environments.
  25. Ecosystem Role: It plays a role in the local ecosystem by contributing to soil health and biodiversity.
  26. Seasonal Changes: The leaves and flowers exhibit seasonal changes and variations.
  27. Threats: It might face threats from herbivores or specific pests in certain regions.
  28. Hybridization: It can potentially hybridize with related species under certain conditions.
  29. Taxonomy: It falls under the Cardamine genus, which includes various other species.
  30. Research Interest: Its properties and interactions with the environment make it a subject of interest in ecological and botanical research.


Coralroot filmed in Silverdale, Lancashire on the 28th April 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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