We’ve been trying to offer this sweet little woodland flower for years and are thrilled to finally have it! Nuttall’s toothwort, also known as oak or slender toothwort, is a delicate and diminutive perennial that grows clusters of small, quaint leaves from slow-spreading rhizomes in moist shady habitats. Its darling white to pink, four-petaled flowers emerge early, making them a vital nectar source for several species of moths, bumblebees, and Syrphid flies, and sway sweetly above the forest floor on short stalks.
- Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous, perennial, herbaceous plant
- Size at maturity: 0-8” tall
- Light requirements: full shade, part sun/part shade
- Moisture requirements: moist soil
- Bloom time: March - July
- Growth rate/ease: medium growth rate, moderately easy to grow
- Wildlife support: flowers attract and provide nectar for adult butterflies, bees, diurnal moths (Enchoria lacteata and Mesoleuca gratulata) and other flying insects; overall plant is a host plant and larval food source for several species of native butterflies and moths including Anthocharis julia, A. sara, and Pieris marginalis
- Native habitat/range: grows in deep, moist humus soils in forests, shaded bottomlands, mossy slopes, and along streams, at low to mid elevations, from the coast to the west-Cascades of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and northern California. Portland Plant List - yes
- Special features & uses: pollinator plant; woodland gardens
Gardening with Nuttall’s Toothwort: This is an excellent and attractive specimen plant in woodland gardens that can provide moist, nutrient rich soil that is high in organic matter. It is quite diminutive and subtle, so plant several in a place where their small-but-mighty beauty won’t be missed. It will spread slowly by short rhizomes over time to form a sweet little population.
Photo Credits 1, 2: Nikkie West, Sparrowhawk Native Plants
Photo Credit 3: "Cardamine nuttallii 3" by Thayne Tuason is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
Photo Credits 4, 5: "Cardamine nuttallii nuttallii" by Ed Alverson is licensed under CC BY 4.0.