Bitter foam herb

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Bitter foam herb
Bitter foam herb

Bitter foam herb

Eurosiden II
Order : Cruciferous (Brassicales)
Family : Cruciferous vegetables (Brassicaceae)
Tribe : Cardamineae
Genre : Foam Herbs ( Cardamine )
Type : Bitter foam herb
Scientific name
Cardamine amara

The bitter foam herb ( Cardamine amara ), also called false watercress or bitter cress , is a type of plant from the genus of the foam herbs (Cardamine) within the cruciferous family (Brassicaceae).


Inflorescence / fruit cluster with blossom and young pods
Four-fold flower with the 6 stamens

Appearance and leaf

The bitter foam herb grows as a perennial herbaceous plant . The prostrate stems drive rooting runners with basal leaves that do not form rosettes . In the spring of the second or following year, ascending, furrowed, heavily leafed stems form, which reach a height of 10 to 60 centimeters. The mostly unbranched, bald or hairy, angular stem is medulla-filled.

The alternate leaves are stalked. The leaf blade is unpaired and pinnate and usually consists of two to four, sometimes up to eight pairs of leaflets and a single pinnate leaf at the end that is slightly larger than the others.

Inflorescence, infructescence, flower, fruit and seeds

Two to thirty flowers stand together in a terminal, initially short, umbrella-clustered leveled one, which later extends into a loose, cluster-like inflorescence until fruit ripe . The hermaphrodite flowers are four-fold with a double flower envelope . The four adjoining sepals are egg-shaped and green. The four whitish to rarely pink petals are 7 to 12 millimeters long, and thus about three times as long as the sepals. The flowers contain six stamens with purple anthers (differentiating from the similar watercress ).

The flowering period lasts from April to July.

On upright fruit stalks protruding from the stem stand rod-shaped, straight pods that have a length of 2 to 4 centimeters and a diameter of 1 to 2 millimeters. The seeds are in a row in each compartment. The fruit flaps open shortly before ripening or when they are touched, rolling up explosively and the seeds are thrown out.

Chromosome number

The chromosome number of the species is 2n = 16, only in subsp. austriaca = 32.


The bitter foam herb is native to Europe and West Asia and is quite common in Central Europe. It grows preferentially in the planar-collinen (flat and hill country) sometimes to subalpine altitude . In the Allgäu Alps it rises west of the Rappensee in Bavaria up to 2050 m above sea level.

The bitter foam herb prefers nutrient-rich, loamy-clay soils that have been seeped by cool water. It is therefore mainly found in spring meadows, forest swamps, ditches and alder forests . It occurs less frequently in damp and wet meadows , since as a semi-light plant it predominantly colonizes locations that are at least partially shaded. At its locations it often occurs in larger stands that are formed by runners. Propagation by seeds plays a less important role. It is a character species of the Montio-Cardaminetea class, but also occurs in lower altitudes in associations of the Alnion or Alno-Ulmion associations.


The plant is high in vitamin C , which is why it was used as a remedy for scurvy in ancient times. It also contains the mustard oil glycoside glucocochlearin , from which butyl mustard oil is split off under the action of water. This gives the plant a pungent taste and at the same time gave the bitter cress its name, derived from the Old High German word cresso 'spicy'. A bitter substance that has not yet been investigated in more detail ensures the bitter taste that continues to give it its name.


Large population in the landscape protection area Grünlandverbund Aa in the Hochsauerland

The first publication of Cardamine amara was made in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus in Species Plantarum . Synonyms for Cardamine amara L. are Cardamine umbrosa Lej. and Cardamine wiedemanniana Boiss.

The generic name Cardamine is derived from the Greek word κάςδαμων ( kárdamon ) for cress. The specific epithet amara owes this species to the taste of its leaves and is derived from the Latin word amárus, -a, for bitter.

The bitter foam herb is divided into the following subspecies:

  • Cardamine amara subsp. amara : widespread in Europe with the exception of the Iberian Peninsula and parts of the Balkan Peninsula.
  • Cardamine amara subsp. austriaca Marhold : in the Alpine countries (Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany (Southeast Bavaria), Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia).
  • Cardamine amara subsp. balcanica Marhold, Ančev & Kit Tan (Syn. Cardamine barbaraeoides auct.): in south-west Bulgaria, north-east Greece, in Macedonia and in southern Serbia.
  • Cardamine amara subsp. opicii (J. Presl & C. Presl) Čelak. : in the Carpathians (Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine).
  • Cardamine amara subsp. pyrenaea Sennen : in the French and Spanish Pyrenees.

The subspecies austriaca is the only tetraploid with a chromosome number of 2n = 32. The other subspecies amara , balcanica , opicii and pyrenaea are diploid with a chromosome number of 2n = 16.

The earlier Cardamine amara asked Cardamine barbaraeoides Halácsy (Syn .: Cardamine amara subsp. Barbaraeoides (Halácsy) Maire & Petitm. ) From Serpentingebieten in Pindos and neighboring mountains and Cardamine amporitana (Cadevall) Sennen & Pau (Syn .: Cardamine amara subsp. olotensis O. Bolòs ) from Catalonia are considered by Marhold as a separate species.

Common names

The other German-language trivial names exist or existed for the bitter foam herb, partly only regionally : Bitterkressich ( Upper Engadine ), Grascheu (Upper Engadine), Kröss ( Tyrol in the Ötztal ), Pomeranian watercress ( Pomerania ), stone cress ( Memmingen ), stone cress and wolf weed ( Carinthia near Reichenau ).


Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Rudolf Schubert , Klaus Werner, Hermann Meusel (eds.): Excursion flora for the areas of the GDR and the FRG . Founded by Werner Rothmaler. 13th edition. tape 2 : vascular plants . People and knowledge, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-06-012539-2 , pp. 210 .
  2. a b c d e f Siegmund Seybold : Flora of Germany and neighboring countries. A book for identifying vascular plants that grow wild and often cultivated . Founded by Otto Schmeil , Jost Fitschen . 93rd completely revised and expanded edition. Quelle & Meyer, Wiebelsheim 2006, ISBN 3-494-01413-2 .
  3. a b c d e f g Konrad Lauber, Gerhart Wagner, André Michel: Flora Helvetica . 2nd, revised and improved edition. Paul Haupt, Bern 1998, ISBN 3-258-05735-4 , 653. Cardamine amara , p. 358 .
  4. Dietmar Aichele, Marianne Golte-Bechtle: What is blooming there? 57th edition. Franckh-Kosmos, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-440-10212-2 .
  5. a b Erich Oberdorfer : Plant-sociological excursion flora for Germany and neighboring areas . 8th edition. Stuttgart, Verlag Eugen Ulmer, 2001. ISBN 3-8001-3131-5
  6. a b Oskar Sebald, Siegmund Seybold, Georg Philippi (ed.): The fern and flowering plants of Baden-Württemberg . 2nd expanded edition. tape 2 : Special part (Spermatophyta, subclass Dilleniidae): Hypericaceae to Primulaceae . Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart (Hohenheim) 1993, ISBN 3-8001-3323-7 .
  7. Bitter foam herb. In:
  8. Erhard Dörr, Wolfgang Lippert : Flora of the Allgäu and its surroundings. Volume 1, IHW, Eching 2001, ISBN 3-930167-50-6 , p. 586.
  9. a b Dietmar Aichele, Heinz-Werner Schwegler: The flowering plants of Central Europe . 2nd Edition. tape 3 : Evening primrose plants to reddish plants . Franckh-Kosmos, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-440-08048-X , p. 308 .
  10. Entry on cress. In: Römpp Online . Georg Thieme Verlag, accessed on June 28, 2012.
  11. Garden cress Lepidium sativum (PDF; 680 kB). Karlsruhe University of Education.
  12. Carl von Linné: Species Plantarum. Volume 2, Lars Salvius, Stockholm 1753, p. 656, digitizedhttp: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/ IA% 3D ~ MDZ% 3D% 0A ~ SZ% 3D ~ double-sided% 3D ~ LT% 3D ~ PUR% 3D .
  13. Cardamine amara at Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
  14. a b Karol Marhold: Brassicaceae. In: Euro + Med Plantbase - the information resource for Euro-Mediterranean plant diversity. Berlin 2011, Internet publication , accessed November 25, 2011
  15. a b Karol Marhold: Taxonomic evaluation of the tetraploid populations of Cardamine amara (Brassicaceae) from the Eastern Alps and adjacent areas. In: Botanica Helvetica. Volume 109, No. 1, 1999, pp. 67-84, DOI: 10.5169 / seals-73287 .
  16. a b Karol Marhold, Minčo E. Ančev, Kit Tan: A new subspecies of Cardamine amara (Brassicaceae) from Bulgaria and Greece. In: Annales Botanici Fennici. Volume 33, No. 3, 1996, pp. 199-204 (PDF file) .
  17. Gordana Tomović, Dmitar Lakušić, Vladimir Randelović, Karol Marhold: Cardamine amara (Brassicaceae) in Serbia and Republic of Macedonia. In: Biologia (Bratislava). Volume 64, No. 6, 2009, pp. 1095-1099, DOI: 10.2478 / s11756-009-0182-8 ( PDF file ).
  18. Karol Marhold: Taxonomy of the genus Cardamine L. (Cruciferae) in the Carpathians and Pannonia. II. Cardamine amara L. In: Folia Geobotanioca et Phytotaxonomica. Volume 30, No. 1, 1995, pp. 63-80, DOI: 10.1007 / BF02813221 ( PDF file ).
  19. ^ Judita Lihová, Karol Marhold, K., Barbara Neuffer: Taxonomy of Cardamine amara (Cruciferae) in the Iberian Peninsula. In: Taxon. Volume 49, No. 4, 2000, pp. 747-763 ( JSTOR 1223975 , PDF file ).
  20. ^ Georg August Pritzel , Carl Jessen : The German folk names of plants. New contribution to the German linguistic treasure. Philipp Cohen, Hanover 1882, page 78 f. ( online ).

Web links

Commons : Bitter Foam Cabbage ( Cardamine amara )  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files