Cardamine bilobata


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

Common Name(s)

Native bittercress

Current Conservation Status

2018 - Threatened - Nationally Critical

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

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2009 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Data Deficient


2012 - RR, Sp


Cardamine bilobata Kirk



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




Endemic to the eastern South Island. North-west Nelson and east of the main divide.


Mainly low alpine 900-1500m altitude. Usually in fellfield, on moraine or scree edges, or rock crevices, also damp places in tussock grassland.


Low growing herb with single rosettes or in small clumps. Leaves deeply three lobed, sometimes with additional pair of leaflets; dull green to purplish, thin, fleshy, hairless. Flower stems sparsely branched, hairless, up to 30cm tall. Flowers large, white, about 8mm across, 4-petalled with 6 stamens. Seeds up to 1mm long, pale brown, oblong, in slender linear pods up to 2.5cm long.

Similar Taxa

Cardamine corymbosa Hook.f., and C. aff. bilobata. From C. corymbosa it differs by its larger fruits, and three lobed leaves. C. aff. bilobata differs by its entire, unlobed leaves.


January to February

Flower Colours



January to February

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed.


Based on herbarium evidence it would seem that the species was more widespread and common than it is now. Being a cress it is highly palatable, and it may have declined as a result of browsing pressure. The species is also considered to be quite elusive (P.B. Heenan pers. comm.) and is rarely seen even in apparently suitable habitat.

Chromosome No.

2n = 48

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

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




References and further reading

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