This is one of my favorite plant names. I like it so much, I have to look up the scientific name every year because I can’t remember Cardamine nuttallii var. nuttallii.
One reason it’s so captivating is that this is one of the most diminutive, yet appealing flowers of early spring. It surprises me every year. So small, so pinky-striped, so self possessed on the moist, humus-y forest floor. The leaves are unusually dark green, the plant stands on its own without flopping over, holding the flowers up well on sturdy stems with interesting divided leaves on the upper stem.
A former species name, pulcherimma means beautiful. Cardamine is a genus of edible cresses – mustard family – although I’m not sure this one is very edible; haven’t tried it. Another common name is beautiful bitter cress; pretty good, but not as good as oaks toothwort.
I’ll say it again: oaks toothwort…one of the best names ever.
The alligator lizards like it too, this one said when I woke it up this spring while pulling weeds.