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For Your Garden - February 2010

Are you ready for spring? Some of the native spring wildflowers will be blooming soon! Are you using native wildflowers in your landscaping? Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and disease. They also provide food and shelter for native wildlife. Their brilliantly colored blossoms and interesting shapes will make your landscape a showplace. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.

toothwort (Dentaria laciniata)
Photo © 2009, River Valley Photographic Resources, Ltd.,

Toothwort, also known as pepper-root, grows to about one foot in height. Leaves develop at the base of the plant as well as in a whorl of three below the flowers. The leaves are lobed and usually toothed. Flowers are up to three-fourths inch long and develop in clusters at the stem tip. Flower petals may be white, pale lavender or pink. The fruit is long (up to one and one-half inches) and slender, with a single row of seeds. Flowering occurs from late February through May in woodlands throughout the state. Toothwort is one of the first wildflowers to bloom each year in Illinois.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

Illinois Range

Native Plant Information

For more information about Illinois native plants, visit our Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists page. The following publications are available from the IDNR on our publications page.


Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Capparales
Family: Brassicaceae

Illinois Status: common, native