Okay you real wildflower experts—I need your help identifying the plant pictured here.
I made these photos a couple of days ago, and since then have been flipping through field guides and botany handbooks, trying to key it down…then dithering between various possibilities, and becoming seriously frustrated because I'm not quite satisfied with any of the choices I've come upon.
As my Uncle Raymond used to say, it's time to call in the big dogs!
Here's what you see in the photos…and what the rest of the plant looks like, described to the best of my limited botanical abilities.
First off, the blooms in the photos are tiny, not more than a quarter-inch across. (Yup, macro shot.) The plant itself is about six inches tall, the delicate stems green and smooth—not in the least hairy. On the upper part of the stem—but below the flowers and the long pods—are what seems to be a series of leaflets, 4-6 pairs. At the base of the grouping of stems (4-6 per plant) is a rosette of basal leaves which are rounded, not lobed or toothed. The plants are growing in the edge of my side yard, in fairly dry ground. They receive most of the day's worth of sun.
I'm pretty sure this is some sort of cress. But what? The basal leaves are completely wrong for lyre-leaved rock cress; and when I pull up other photos of small-flowered bitter cress, they don't look much like my blooms. The stem "leaflets" appears to rule out spring cress, as well.
I'm becoming cressfallen…uh, make that crestfallen.
I hate to run shots of a wildflower I can't name, but I'm getting tired of not knowing what is obviously a fairly common plant of my yard. I'd rather admit my ignorance than continue my puzzlement.
Besides, they're lovely little blooms, nameless or not.
Leaves on the upper stem…
I've looked again and finally decided this must be small-flowered bitter cress. At least that's my final guess. It still doesn't quite fit the description to me—but given the references on my shelf, I'm not sure anything else comes as close. I still could be entirely wrong.