Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis)

Widespread in damp meadows and pastures this flower looks white from a distance, but on closer inspection shows to be a light pink.

cuckoo flower

Cuckooflower is a member of the Cruciferous plants and cabbage family. The flowers are around 1.5cm across with four broad oval petals and they flower from April to June. This timescale is identical to the arrival and departure of the Cuckoo bird and it is thought this is where the name comes from.

Other names for this plant are “Ladys Smock” or “Milkmaids”. The specific name “pratensis” is Latin for meadow. On our farms it is to be found on margins near water courses or low lying areas such as ditch banks.

Cuckooflower is up to 60 cm tall and is abundant throughout Britain. The basal leaves have rounded leaves similar to those of Watercress and the stems are divided into narrow well separated lobes that resemble a ladder.

cuckooflower

In Folklore it was said to be sacred to the fairies and brought bad luck if it was taken indoors. It was not included in Mayday garlands for the same reason.