Cardamine pratensis

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Cardamine pratensis
Wiesenschaumkraut (Cardamine pratensis)-20200416-RM-095356.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Cardamine
Species:
C. pratensis
Binomial name
Cardamine pratensis

Cardamine pratensis, the cuckoo flower, lady's smock, mayflower, or milkmaids, is a flowering plant in the family Brassicaceae, native throughout most of Europe and Western Asia. The specific name pratensis is Latin for "meadow".

Description[edit]

Cardamine pratensis is a herbaceous, hairless,[1] perennial plant growing to 40–60 cm tall, with pinnate leaves 5–12 cm long with 3–15 leaflets, each leaflet about 1 cm long. The flowers are produced on a spike 10–30 cm long, each flower 1–2 cm in diameter with four very pale violet-pink (rarely white) petals. The style of the fruit is short or longish.[1] It grows best close to water.

Etymology[edit]

Its common name cuckooflower derives from the formation of the plant's flowers at around the same time as the arrival each spring of the first cuckoos in the British Isles.[2]

Taxonomy[edit]

Cardamine pratensis is a polyploid complex, with all ploidy levels from diploid to decaploid, and dodecaploid, known, as well as frequent aneuploids. It may be treated as a single species, or divided into Cardamine pratensis s.str. (diploid to heptaploid) and Cardamine palustris (syn. Cardamine pratensis subsp. paludosa (Knaf) Celak., Cardamine dentata Schult.)[3]) (octaploid to decaploid).

Distribution[edit]

The species is commonly found throughout the British Isles.[4]

Recorded in Ireland from all 40 of the "vice-counties" (a system adopted by Praeger in 1901).[5]

Cultivation[edit]

It is grown as an ornamental plant in gardens, and has become naturalised in North America as a result of cultivation. In some European countries, including parts of Germany, the plant is now under threat.

It is a food plant for the orange tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines) and makes a valuable addition to any garden which aims at attracting wildlife. It was once used as a substitute for watercress.

Folklore[edit]

In folklore it was said to be sacred to the fairies, and so was unlucky if brought indoors. It was not included in May Day garlands for the same reason.[6]

Additional general information[edit]

It is the county flower of the English county of Cheshire.[7]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Webb, D.A., Parnell, J. and Doogue, D. An Irish Flora 1996. Dundalgan Press, Dundalk. ISBN 0-85221-131-7
  2. ^ "Lady's Smock | Wildflowers | Wildlife". www.wildlifetrusts.org. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  3. ^ "Cardamine dentata Schult". www.worldfloraonline.org. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  4. ^ Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and Warburg, E.F. 1968. Excursion Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-04656-4
  5. ^ Scannell, M.J.P and Synnott, D.M. 1972. Census Catalogue of the Flora of Ireland. Dublin
  6. ^ Howard, Michael. Traditional Folk Remedies, (Century, 1987); p
  7. ^ "Cuckooflower | Plant & fungi species | Wild plants". www.plantlife.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-10.

External links[edit]