This is a very rough guide and is in order of the number of identification queries we often receive on our Wild Flower Society Facebook page.
Plants in the same genus which are the subject of identification queries most often are denoted with a star (*).
Others (unstarred), in the same genus are less often mentioned or are uncommon or even rare.
Always count the stamens on more than one flower. The numbers are not as consistent as you would hope.
Hairy Bittercress is often not at all hairy. Never assume anything from a common name.
It has a line of hairs down the stem and usually has five petals and sepals. However the petals are split to the base so it looks as though it has ten petals.
It is a sprawling annual plant with quite bright green, oval leaves. There are flowers to be found at all times of year but they tend not to open until the ambient tempertaure is at least 10 Celsius.
Some of the hairs can be glandular.
It flowers in March to April And has five petals split to half way down. Typically there will be dozens of prominent flowers all in flower at once providing a very cheery sight in Spring.
The petals are thinner and split to the base so it looks as though it has ten petals.
The flowering time for Lesser Stitchwort is summertime and there is little if any overlap in flowering periods between Greater and Lesser Stitchwort.
Very often there are no petals just pale, bright green/yellowish leaves. Close examination with a hand lens will often reveal flowers that aren't visible to the naked eye.
It tends to be a coastal plant growing in dunes or sandy habitats and it is best to search for it early in the year at the beginning of March or earlier.
Often, by the beginning of May, there is little trace it was ever flourishing at the site you saw it only a few weeks before.
In a warm Spring it has often gone without trace by mid May.
identification is therefore best attempted when there is a flowering stem with flowers and fruits.
In this case the fruits are totally different from Shepherd's-purse. They are thin, cylindrical and long, tending to stick out at right angles to the stem.
Arabidopisis thaliana is a plant much used in molecular biology experiments and was the first to have its complete genome elucidated.
This is because Cochlearia danica has spread along our roads particularly dual carriage ways and motorways, populating the central reservation where it can grow with impunity.
Cochleria danica is a halophyte (tolerates salty habitats) and so was mostly known from the seaside for many decades. Now we use salt to keep roads ice free and this reduces competition for Danish Scurvygrass so it thrives.
In April look out for masses of white flowes with purplish buds growing by main roads. The ivy-shaped leaves are typical and it has spherical fruits.