Perennials; usually glabrous, rarely sparsely pubescent. Rhizomes (tuberiform, fragile) moniliform, segments fusiform, 3–6 mm diam. (fleshy). Stems erect, unbranched, 1.2–3(–4) dm, glabrous or pubescent. Rhizomal leaves 3-foliolate, to 24 cm, leaflets petiolulate or subsessile; petiole (3–)5–12(–16) cm; lateral leaflets subsessile or petiolulate (0.2–1 cm), blade similar to terminal leaflet or smaller; terminal leaflet (petiolule) (0.2–)0.5–1.5(–2) cm, blade broadly ovate to rhombic-obovate, 1.5–6(–8) cm, base usually cuneate, rarely subtruncate, margins coarsely dentate to crenate or 3-lobed, surfaces puberulent or not. Cauline leaves 2 (or 3), 3-foliolate (usually alternate, rarely opposite, different in morphology from rhizomal), petiolate, leaflets petiolulate or sessile; petiole 0.5–2 cm, base not auriculate; lateral leaflets sessile, blade similar to terminal, smaller, margins usually dentate, rarely entire; terminal leaflet sessile or petiolulate, blade narrowly lanceolate to narrowly oblong or oblong-lanceolate, 2–7 × 0.3–0.6 cm, margins minutely puberulent. Racemes ebracteate. Fruiting pedicels ascending to divaricate, 15–40 mm. Flowers: sepals oblong, 5–7.5 × 1–2 mm, lateral pair slightly saccate basally; petals purple to pale pink, oblanceolate, 9–18 × 2–5 mm (clawed, apex rounded); filaments: median pairs 5–10 mm, lateral pair 3.5–8 mm; anthers linear, 1.5–3 mm. Fruits linear, 2.5–4 cm × 1.5–2.5 mm; ovules 8–12 per ovary; style (5–)7–11 mm. Seeds dark brown, oblong, 2–2.5 × 1–1.5 mm. 2n = ca. 128.
Phenology: Flowering Mar–May.
Habitat: Moist woods, wooded ridges and bottomlands, floodplains, shady ravines, streambeds
Elevation: 300-1300 m
Ala., Ark., Del., D.C., Ga., Ind., Ky., Md., Miss., N.J., N.C., Ohio, Pa., S.C., Tenn., Va., W.Va.
Cardamine heterophylla (Nuttall) Alph. Wood (1870), not Host (1797) is an illegitimate name, sometimes found in synonymy with C. angustata.