Pennsylvania bittercress is the only member of the watercress family that is native to the United States and is one of the first wildflower/weeds in this area to bloom. It starts blooming with the first warm sunny days of February or March and continues until late July.

Bittercress can be added to salads. Insects like this plant, too, so it needs to be washed well to get them out. The young leaves are very tasty, but they become bitter as they grow, making them have a pungent flavor.

I don’t know anybody who goes to the trouble of using it in salads because it is so small and there is a lot of work in cleaning and getting it ready to use. It is a small plant that is easily overlooked.

Pennsylvania bittercress grows 4 to 8 inches high in yards and gardens where it is generally controlled and up to 24 inches where it is undisturbed.

Its small blossom, 1/16 of an inch across, goes unseen unless you are looking down and searching for it.

All plants that are members of the watercress family enjoy water and Pennsylvania bittercress is no exception.

It prefers wet ground but it will grow in flowerbeds and gardens that are watered often or in draining ditches or any place that gets water often.

This plant is so hardy and grows so quickly that it is a pest in a lot of areas, especially in flower gardens. Even though it grows fast and spreads, it is one of the easier plants to control. Its roots are shallow and are easy to pull up. It grows throughout all of central and eastern United States.

Have fun with it.

Connie Taylor can be reached at His column is published Fridays.

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