Bittercress (Brassicaceae) is one of the most prolific and costly weeds of the container nursery industry. Bittercress accessions from container nurseries throughout the major production zones in the United States were examined and compared with herbarium specimens. The identity of these weedy bittercress species were further explored using sequences of the nuclear ribosomal DNA (nrDNA) internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region and the nrDNA region for the COP1-interacting protein 7 (CIP7). Four species of bittercress were detected in the nursery industry of the United States, including New Zealand bittercress, hairy bittercress, flexuous bittercress, and little bittercress. The taxon referred to here as Cardamine flexuosa With. (flexuous bittercress) likely contains two genotypes previously reported as European C. flexuosa and Asian C. flexuosa. Phylogenetic relationships between the four species we examined, particularly in relationship to flexuous bittercress, were not fully resolved by the molecular evidence generated for this study. New Zealand bittercress is nonnative and does not appear in current keys to the species for the United States. Flexuous bittercress is also an alien species, which appears in some U.S. keys but not in all. To aid nurserymen and botanists in identification of these four closely related bittercress species, a key was developed and is accompanied by detailed descriptions and illustrations.
Nomenclature Flexuous bittercress, Cardamine flexuosa With. CARFL; hairy bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta L. CARHI; Japanese bittercress, Cardamine scutata Thunb. CARSC; little bittercress, Cardamine oligosperma Nutt. CAROL; New Zealand bittercress, Cardamine corymbosa Hook f.