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Cardamine pratensis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Brassicaceae (Cabbage)
Also in this family:
Alpine Pennycress, Alpine Rock-cress, American Wintercress, Annual Wall Rocket, Austrian Yellowcress, Awlwort, Bastard Cabbage, Black Mustard, Bristol Rock-cress, Charlock, Common Scurvygrass, Common Whitlowgrass, Coralroot, Creeping Yellowcress, Dame's-violet, Danish Scurvygrass, Dittander, Early Wintercress, Eastern Rocket, English Scurvygrass, Evergreen Candytuft, False London Rocket, Field Pennycress, Field Pepperwort, Flixweed, Garden Arabis, Garden Candytuft, Garden Cress, Garden Radish, Garden Rocket, Garlic Mustard, Glabrous Whitlowgrass, Gold of Pleasure, Great Yellowcress, Greater Cuckooflower, Greater Periwinkle, Greater Swinecress, Hairy Bittercress, Hairy Rock-cress, Hairy Rocket, Hairy Whitlowgrass, Hedge Mustard, Hoary Cress, Hoary Mustard, Hoary Stock, Hoary Whitlowgrass, Honesty, Horseradish, Hutchinsia, Hybrid Watercress, Intermediate Periwinkle, Isle of Man Cabbage, Large Bittercress, Lesser Swinecress, London Rocket, Lundy Cabbage, Marsh Yellowcress, Mountain Scurvygrass, Narrow-fruited Watercress, Narrow-leaved Bittercress, Narrow-leaved Pepperwort, Northern Rock-cress, Northern Yellowcress, Oilseed Rape, Perennial Rocket, Perennial Wall Rocket, Perfoliate Pennycress, Pinnate Coralroot, Purple Rock-cress, Pyrenean Scurvygrass, Rock Whitlowgrass, Russian Rocket, Scottish Scurvygrass, Sea Kale, Sea Radish, Sea Rocket, Sea Stock, Shepherd's Cress, Shepherd's Purse, Small-flowered Wintercress, Smith's Pepperwort, Steppe Cabbage, Swede, Sweet Alyssum, Tall Rocket, Thale Cress, Tower Mustard, Treacle Mustard, Trefoil Cress, Turnip, Wall Whitlowgrass, Wallflower, Wallflower Cabbage, Warty Cabbage, Watercress, Wavy Bittercress, White Mustard, Wild Cabbage, Wild Candytuft, Wild Radish, Wild Turnip, Wintercress, Woad, Yellow Whitlowgrass
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Ditches, fens, fields, grassland, meadows, roadsides, swamps, woodland.

White, 4 petals
4 petals, clustered, pale to dark lilac, seldom white, up to 2cm.
A long elongated dry capsule which eventually rolls up and explodes to disperse its many seeds.
A basal rosette of long-stalked leaves are present. The short-stalked stem leaves are alternate and pinnate. The 1 to 7 pairs of opposite leaflets and 1 terminal leaflet are all separated wide apart.
Flowers are scented.
Other Names:
American Cuckoo-flower, Bitter Cress, Coco Plant, Fairy Flower, Lady's Smock, Mayflower, Meadow Cress, Milkmaids.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Cardamine pratensis, also known as lady's smock or cuckoo flower, is a species of flowering plant in the mustard family. It is native to Europe and can be found in a variety of habitats, including meadows, pastures, and roadside verges. The plant has hairy, green leaves and small, purple or pink flowers with 4 petals that bloom in the spring and summer. The flowers and leaves of C. pratensis are edible and have a spicy, mustard-like flavor. The plant is sometimes used in salads, sandwiches, and other dishes as a flavorful garnish or condiment. It is also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems and digestive disorders. Lady's smock is a popular garden plant and is often grown for its attractive flowers and edible leaves.


Cuckooflower, also known as Lady’s Smock or Milkmaids, is a beautiful and delicate wildflower that is native to Europe and Asia. This lovely wildflower is a member of the mustard family, Brassicaceae, and is known for its bright yellow, star-shaped flowers that bloom in early spring.

Cuckooflower is a hardy plant that is well-adapted to growing in damp meadows, along streams and in other moist environments. It prefers partial shade to full sun, and is often found growing in association with other wildflowers such as primroses, bluebells, and violets.

The plant's scientific name, Cardamine pratensis, reflects its preferred growing conditions. "Pratensis" means "of the meadow" in Latin, while "Cardamine" is derived from the Greek word "kardamon," meaning "cress." This is fitting, as the leaves of the Cuckooflower resemble those of cress, and have a slightly bitter, spicy taste.

The bright yellow flowers of Cuckooflower are a familiar sight in early spring, and are a welcome sign of the changing seasons. Each flower consists of four petals that form a star shape, and a central cluster of yellow stamens. The flowers are produced in clusters, and are held on long, slender stems that rise above the rosette of leaves at the base of the plant.

Cuckooflower is a popular wildflower with gardeners, who value it for its beauty and ease of cultivation. It can be grown from seed, and once established, will spread and naturalize readily. This makes it an ideal plant for planting in wildflower meadows, or in naturalistic garden settings.

In addition to its ornamental value, Cuckooflower is also of importance to wildlife. The flowers provide a valuable source of nectar for early-flying insects such as bees, butterflies, and moths. The leaves are also edible, and are a food source for the caterpillars of several butterfly species, including the Orange Tip butterfly.

Cuckooflower is a lovely wildflower that is well worth growing in your garden. Its bright yellow flowers are a welcome sight in early spring, and its ease of cultivation and value to wildlife make it an ideal plant for any gardener interested in promoting biodiversity. So why not try growing some Cuckooflowers in your garden this year, and enjoy their beauty and importance for years to come.

Cuckooflower has a rich cultural and historical significance in many cultures. In folklore, the flower was believed to be a symbol of spring and new beginnings, and was often associated with May Day celebrations and other spring festivities. The delicate yellow flowers were often used to decorate May poles, and young girls would wear crowns of Cuckooflowers as they danced around the May pole.

In herbal medicine, Cuckooflower has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. The leaves have been used to make a bitter tea that was believed to have tonic properties and to stimulate the digestion. The plant was also used to treat skin problems, such as rashes and eczema, and was believed to have antiseptic properties.

One of the most interesting traditional uses of Cuckooflower was in the treatment of whooping cough. The plant's leaves and flowers were dried, and the dried material was then boiled in water to make a cough syrup. This cough syrup was said to be effective in treating whooping cough and other respiratory problems, and was widely used in Europe and Asia.

Today, Cuckooflower is still used in traditional medicine in some parts of the world, and is valued for its therapeutic properties. However, as with any herbal remedy, it is important to use caution when using Cuckooflower, and to consult with a healthcare professional before using it to treat any medical condition.

In addition to its ornamental, cultural, and medicinal uses, Cuckooflower also has ecological importance. The plant is an important part of the springtime meadow community, and provides valuable food and habitat for a wide range of insects, birds, and other wildlife. By planting Cuckooflowers in your garden, you can help to support local wildlife and promote biodiversity in your area.

Cuckooflower is a fascinating and versatile plant that has a rich cultural, historical, and ecological heritage. Whether you are interested in its ornamental beauty, its medicinal properties, or its importance to wildlife, there is no denying that this delicate and lovely wildflower is well worth growing in your garden.

Cuckooflower is also an important food source for a number of insect species, including several species of caterpillar. The leaves are a food source for the caterpillars of the Orange Tip butterfly, which is an indicator species for the health of meadow habitats. By planting Cuckooflowers in your garden, you can provide food and habitat for these important insects, and help to support local populations of Orange Tip butterflies and other species.

Cuckooflower is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow, making it an ideal choice for gardeners of all levels of experience. It is also a great choice for gardeners who are looking to create a wildlife-friendly garden, as it provides food and habitat for a range of species, and can help to support local ecosystems.

In terms of cultivation, Cuckooflower is best grown in moist, well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter. It prefers partial shade to full sun, and is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, from acidic to neutral. Once established, Cuckooflower is a hardy and reliable plant that will thrive with minimal care.

When growing Cuckooflowers in your garden, it is important to be aware of any potential pest or disease problems. The plant is generally free from serious pest or disease problems, but may be susceptible to occasional problems with aphids, slugs, and snails. Regular monitoring of the plants, and prompt treatment of any problems that arise, can help to ensure the health and vigor of your Cuckooflower plants.

Cuckooflower is a beautiful and versatile plant that is well worth growing in your garden. Its bright yellow flowers, its ease of cultivation, and its value to wildlife make it an ideal choice for any gardener who wants to create a beautiful and sustainable garden that supports local ecosystems. Whether you are a seasoned gardener, or are just starting out, Cuckooflower is a plant that is sure to bring joy and beauty to your garden for years to come.

Cuckooflower is also a popular choice for wildflower meadows and naturalistic planting schemes, where its delicate yellow flowers can be appreciated en masse. When planted in large groups, Cuckooflowers create a breathtaking sea of yellow that is sure to draw attention and delight visitors to your garden.

If you are interested in growing Cuckooflowers in your garden, there are several ways to do so. One of the simplest methods is to sow seeds directly into the ground in the spring. This method is best for naturalistic planting schemes, where you want the plants to self-seed and create a wildflower meadow. Alternatively, you can sow seeds in pots and then transplant the young plants into the garden when they are large enough. This method is best if you want to have more control over the placement of the plants in your garden.

Another option is to purchase young Cuckooflower plants from a nursery. This method is best if you are looking for a more instant impact, as young plants will begin flowering the same season they are planted. You can also purchase mature Cuckooflower plants that have been grown in pots, and then plant these out into the garden. This method is best if you are looking for an established and mature Cuckooflower planting that will provide an immediate display of flowers.

When planting Cuckooflowers, it is important to give them the right conditions to thrive. This means planting them in a location that receives partial shade to full sun, and in soil that is moist and well-drained. Once planted, Cuckooflowers will establish quickly and will begin to flower the following spring.

Cuckooflower is a beautiful and versatile plant that is perfect for any gardener who is looking to create a wildflower meadow, a naturalistic planting scheme, or simply to add some bright yellow flowers to their garden. Whether grown from seeds, young plants, or mature specimens, Cuckooflowers are easy to grow and are sure to bring joy and beauty to your garden for years to come.

Additionally, Cuckooflower is a great plant for creating a sustainable and eco-friendly garden. The plant is native to Europe and is therefore well-adapted to local conditions, meaning it requires less maintenance and support than non-native plants. By planting native species like Cuckooflower, you can help to support local biodiversity and reduce the need for inputs such as water, fertilizer, and pest control.

Cuckooflower is also a valuable plant for supporting pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, which play a vital role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. The bright yellow flowers of Cuckooflower provide an important source of nectar for these important insects, and by planting Cuckoofflowers in your garden, you can help to support local populations of pollinators.

Cuckooflower is a versatile plant that can be used in a range of garden styles, from traditional cottage gardens to more modern and contemporary designs. Whether used as a focal point, as a ground cover, or as part of a mixed planting scheme, Cuckooflower is sure to make a beautiful and impactful addition to any garden.

In conclusion, if you are looking to create a sustainable, eco-friendly, and wildlife-friendly garden, then Cuckooflower should be at the top of your list. With its bright yellow flowers, ease of cultivation, and value to wildlife, Cuckooflower is a plant that is sure to bring beauty and benefits to your garden for years to come. So why not add some Cuckooflowers to your garden today and start reaping the rewards of this beautiful and valuable plant!


Cuckooflowers - A Subtle Grace in Nature's Embrace

In the wetlands and meadows, so green and damp
A flower blooms, with a gentle stamp
Its petals are soft, like a cotton veil
A cuckooflower, so delicate and pale

Cuckooflowers they're called, a name so quaint
For these wildflowers, are a dainty paint
With colors ranging, from pink to white
A sweet scent, they leave in their might

Their beauty speaks, of a subtle grace
A calming sight, in nature's embrace
They bloom in spring, with a gentle sway
A sight to behold, on a sunny day

Their beauty hides a secret, too
For cuckooflowers, they're a home so new
For bees and butterflies, that buzz and fly
And other insects, that stop by and by

So if you see a cuckooflower's bloom
Pause a while, and let it consume
Your heart and mind, with its grace
And feel the peace, in its embrace

Let's cherish these cuckooflowers, so sweet
For they bring calm, in nature's beat
Cuckooflowers, they're a gift, so true
A sight to behold, in nature's hue


Cuckooflower filmed in various locations around Lancashire and Cumbria on the 17th April 2023.


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