Cardamine subcarnosa


Cardamine: From the Greek name kárdamon, referring to an Indian spice

Common Name(s)

Campbell Island bitter cress

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - IE, OL
2009 - RR, OL


Cardamine subcarnosa (Hook.f.) Allan



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites


Cardamine hirsuta var. subcarnosa Hook.f.; Cardamine glacialis var. subcarnosa (Hook.f.) Schulz


Endemic. Campbell Island


Inhabiting damp places on scree, peat, grassland, and rock crevices. Said to be most common in herbfields, tall Marsippospermum rushlands, and fellfields of the summit tundra zone


Perennial herb, caespitose, forming an open rosette. Leaves pinnate, up to 100(–140) mm long, green, subcoriaceous, lamina and petiole margins sparsely ciliate, glabrate, or occasionally glabrous; petiole 20–60 mm long, 1.5–6.0 mm wide, winged and sheathing at base. Leaflets 5–7, usually in pairs although proximal leaflets occ. alternate, usually not overlapping except occasionally the uppermost pair and the terminal, hydathodes inconspicuous to prominent, margin entire, apex obtuse to rounded, base cuneate, obtuse or ± truncate; terminal leaflet lamina 5–25 × 5–20 mm, orbicular to broadly elliptic, with inconspicuous lateral lobes or shallowly toothed; lateral leaflet lamina 3–22 × 2.5–12 mm, broadly elliptic, elliptic to obovate, shallowly toothed or entire; petiolules up to 10 mm long, although sometimes ± absent. Cauline leaves subtending pedicels, although sometimes absent on upper pedicels; lower leaves similar to rosette leaves, but with fewer and narrower leaflets, becoming smaller in all parts; upper leaves 1.7–6.5 × 0.3–0.9 mm, increasingly linear, simple. Inflorescence 50–150(–300) mm long, 1.2–1.6 mm diam. at base, glabrous, usually elongating after flowering, upright to ascending, racemose, flowers distant in upper half. Pedicels 2.0–12 mm long, 0.5–0.8 mm diam, erecto-patent to spreading. Sepals 1.3–2.4 × 0.5–1.2 mm, oblong to elliptic, glabrous, green or purple, margin white and membranous, apex obtuse to rounded, base truncate. Petals 2.2–4.7 × 0.6–1.3 mm, white, pink or purple, usually purple veined, limb obovate; apex obtuse to rounded; base cuneate to attenuate, tapering to a ± indistinct claw, claw up to 0.5 mm long. Filaments 6, 1.5–2.5 mm long; anthers 0.3–0.4 mm long. Ovary 3.2–3.5 mm long, 0.5–0.7 mm diam., terete, glabrous; stigma 0.3–0.5 mm diam. Siliques 9–20 × 0.9–1.3 mm, not crowded, erecto-patent to spreading, beak 1.0–1.4 mm long; replum 0.3–0.4 mm wide; septum with a weak central vein or vein absent. Seeds 0.8–1.4 mm long, 0.5–0.9 mm wide, 0.3–0.5 mm thick, rounded or oblong, red-brown.

Similar Taxa

Distinguished from the Auckland Islands endemic Cardamine latior by longer leaves with fewer leaflets that do not overlap, less prominent leaf margin and axil hydathodes, longer inflorescences, sub-erect to spreading. narrower rather than erect and broader siliques, and by the septum which lacks a well defined central vein.


November – December

Flower Colours

Violet / Purple,White


December - February

Propagation Technique

Not known from cultivation. Probably easy but likely to suffer in high temperatures and humidity.


Rated as Naturally Uncommon because this species is naturally confined to a restricted geographic area of <1000 km²

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Seeds are dispersed by ballistic projection, water and attachment (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


Description from Heenan (2008)

References and further reading

Heenan, P.B. (2008). New Zealand Journal of Botany. 46(4): 559–566

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309

This page last updated on 25 May 2014