Alternate name: Spring Whitlow-grass
Family: Brassicaceae, Mustard view all from this family
Description A small, inconspicuous plant with minute white flowers on leafless stalks above a tiny basal rosette; highly variable in appearance.
Habit: native or introduced annual herb.
Height: to 8 in (20 cm)
Leaf: in basal rosette, green to purple-green, obovate to lanceolate, stalked, to 1.2 in (30 mm) long, to 0.4 in (10 mm) wide.
Flower: minute, white, 4-parted, 0.05-0.125 in (1-3 mm) wide; 4 deeply notched petals, heart-shaped or may appear to be 8 petals, around a prominent yellow-green center; flowerhead held in a small terminal cluster.
Fruit: flat pod, oval to linear, 0.1-0.5 in (2.5-12 mm) long; held upright and close to stem on long stalk.
Flower February to June.
Habitat Cedar glades, lawns, fields, pastures, waste places, grassy hillsides, disturbed sites, roadsides; to 8200 ft (2500 m).
Range Found in western North America, from British Columbia and Alberta south to California, northeast to Colorado; and in eastern North America from Quebec south to Georgia, west to Arkansas, north to Minnesota and Ontario.
Discussion Also known as shadflower, nailwort, vernal whitlow grass, spring whitlow grass, early witlow grass, whitlow-grass, whitlow wort. The latin name Erophila verna is also used. Several varieties and subspecies have been proposed. Considered weedy or invasive in some areas. Authorities differ on whether this plant is native to North America, or introduced from Europe.
A whitlow is an inflammation of the finger or toe, which this plant was once used to treat.