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Greater Cuckooflower

Cardamine raphanifolia

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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, Cuckooflower, 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 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:
75 centimetres tall
Gardens, marshes, meadows, mountains, riverbanks, riversides, woodland.

Pink, 4 petals
Clusters of pink flowers with purple veins. Insect-pollinated.
A perennial with pinnate leaves, divided into pairs. The end leaflet is large.
Other Names:
Broad-leaved Cuckoo Flower, Radish-leaved Bittercress, Radish-leaved Cress.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Cardamine raphanifolia, also known as radish-leaved cress or radish-leaved bittercress, 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 woods, meadows, and marshes. The plant has hairy, green leaves that are divided into several lobes and resemble the leaves of a radish plant. It has small, white flowers with 4 petals that bloom in the spring and summer. The flowers and leaves of C. raphanifolia 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.


Greater Cuckooflower (Cardamine raphanifolia) is a beautiful and rare wildflower that is native to the damp, shady forests of Europe. This fascinating plant is a member of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes familiar plants such as broccoli, cauliflower, and mustard. The Greater Cuckooflower gets its name from the cuckoo bird, which is said to eat the plant and become drunk from its effects.

The Greater Cuckooflower is a hardy, low-growing plant that produces delicate clusters of white, yellow, or pink flowers from early spring to early summer. The leaves of the plant are a vibrant green, and are deeply divided into narrow, serrated segments. The plant prefers moist, well-drained soils and partial shade, making it a great choice for gardens, woodlands, and wildflower meadows.

In addition to its beauty, the Greater Cuckooflower is also prized for its medicinal properties. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive problems, skin irritations, and respiratory issues. The plant contains a number of active compounds, including glucosinolates, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

Despite its beauty and usefulness, the Greater Cuckooflower is becoming increasingly rare in the wild, due to habitat loss and over-collection. This is a reminder of the importance of protecting and preserving wildflower habitats, so that future generations can enjoy their beauty and benefits.

If you are interested in growing the Greater Cuckooflower in your own garden, it is a relatively easy plant to grow from seed or root divisions. Simply plant the seeds in a well-drained soil in a partially shady area, and water regularly until the plant is established. The Greater Cuckooflower is a hardy plant that is relatively pest and disease-free, making it a low-maintenance addition to any garden.

The Greater Cuckooflower is a stunning and fascinating wildflower that deserves more attention. Its beauty, medicinal properties, and ease of cultivation make it a great choice for gardens, wildflower meadows, and natural areas. So next time you see this delicate and rare wildflower, take a moment to appreciate its beauty and the important role it plays in our natural world.

The Greater Cuckooflower is a highly versatile plant, and can be used in a variety of ways in the garden. It is a great groundcover plant, and can be used to cover large areas of damp, shady ground. It is also an excellent plant for rock gardens, as it can grow well in crevices and other tight spaces.

One of the most attractive features of the Greater Cuckooflower is its ability to form colonies and spread over time. This makes it an excellent choice for planting in large, naturalistic landscapes, where it can provide a sea of delicate flowers each spring.

The Greater Cuckooflower is also an excellent choice for wildflower meadows, where it can provide a valuable source of nectar and pollen for pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. In fact, the Greater Cuckooflower is a particularly important food source for the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly, which is found in the damp, shady woodlands of Europe.

Another benefit of the Greater Cuckooflower is its ability to grow well in shady areas, making it a great choice for planting under trees and other woodland plants. The plant's delicate leaves and flowers provide a beautiful contrast to the rough, textured leaves of other woodland plants, and create a lush and diverse woodland habitat.

In addition to its ornamental and ecological benefits, the Greater Cuckooflower is also a valuable plant for herbalists and those interested in traditional medicine. The plant's active compounds can be used in a variety of remedies, and the leaves, stems, and roots can all be harvested and used fresh or dried.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Greater Cuckooflower is a hardy plant that is relatively easy to care for. It is resistant to most pests and diseases, and requires very little maintenance once it is established.

The Greater Cuckooflower is a beautiful and versatile wildflower that deserves a place in every garden. Whether you are looking to create a wildflower meadow, a naturalistic landscape, or a woodland garden, this plant is an excellent choice that will bring beauty and benefits to your outdoor space.

The Greater Cuckooflower is also a valuable plant for wildlife. In addition to being a source of nectar and pollen for pollinators, it is also an important food source for a variety of herbivores, including rabbits, deer, and other mammals. The leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant are all edible, and provide a rich source of nutrition for these animals.

For gardeners, the Greater Cuckooflower is a great choice for adding year-round interest to the garden. In the spring, the plant produces a profusion of delicate flowers, which can be white, yellow, or pink, depending on the variety. In the summer, the plant produces large, attractive leaves, which can be harvested and used in salads or as a green vegetable. In the fall, the plant produces seed pods, which can be harvested and used for planting or for making decorative arrangements.

The Greater Cuckooflower is also a great choice for creating a naturalistic garden, as it is a highly adaptable plant that can grow well in a variety of soils and conditions. Whether you are planting in a damp, shady forest, or in a sunny meadow, the Greater Cuckooflower is a versatile and hardy plant that will thrive.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Greater Cuckooflower is a great choice for those looking to create a sustainable garden. The plant is easy to grow and care for, and requires very little maintenance. In addition, the plant is highly resistant to pests and diseases, making it an excellent choice for an organic garden.

In conclusion, the Greater Cuckooflower is a highly valuable plant for gardeners, wildlife enthusiasts, and those interested in traditional medicine. Its beauty, versatility, and ease of care make it an excellent choice for a variety of outdoor spaces, from wildflower meadows to woodland gardens. So if you are looking for a beautiful and beneficial plant to add to your garden, consider the Greater Cuckooflower.


Greater Cuckooflower filmed at Skelwith Bridge in the Lake District on the 13th May 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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