HAIRY BITTERCRESS, Cardamine hirsuta, growing in the shady flower bed by the front door, is one of those little green jobs, a garden weed that looks so nondescript that you might think that it would be impossible to identify it.
The four-petalled cross-shaped flowers show that it’s a crucifer, a member the cabbage, cress and mustard family, formerly the Cruciferae but now known botanically as the Brassicaceae family.
The leaf-shapes and the sausage-shaped seed-pods help me narrow it down to hairy bittercress and a hand lens reveals that, as the species name hirsuta suggests, the stems and the backs of the leaves are covered in little hairs.
You also need a hand lens to spot that its flower has four stamens. This distinguishes hairy bittercress from a similar looking species, the wavy bittercress, Cardamine flexuosa, also known as greater bittercress.