Although not the showiest of montane plants, this heart-leaved bitter-cress caught the attention of many Botany BC participants at last year’s meeting in Cathedral Provincial Park and Protected Area. It is uncommonly encountered in British Columbia, with a distributional range that barely extends into the province.
Cardamine cordifolia is more widespread across the western states of the USA, reaching as far east as Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico. Habitat preferences tend to be wet places: “Stream banks, springs, shady gullies, creek bottoms, lakeshores, ponds, cold springs, meadows, moist hillsides, mossy areas, alpine streams, mixed coniferous forests”; all the populations we noted were either lakeside or streamside.
As many as five varieties of Cardamine cordifolia have been recognized by some plant taxonomists (and if following these interpretations, today’s taxon would be Cardamine cordifolia var. lyallii). However, both the Flora of North America and the upcoming Flora of the Pacific Northwest, 2nd Edition treat all these as part of a highly-variable species, recognizing the entity as simply Cardamine cordifolia.