Cardamine pratensis (cuckooflower, lady's smock 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."
Cardamine pratensis is a herbaceous, hairless, 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. It grows best close to water.
The species is commonly found throughout the British Isles.
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.
Additional general information
- Webb, D.A., Parnell, J. and Doogue, D. An Irish Flora 1996. Dundalgan Press, Dundalk. ISBN 0-85221-131-7
- "Lady's Smock | Wildflowers | Wildlife". www.wildlifetrusts.org. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
- 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
- Scannell, M.J.P and Synnott, D.M. 1972. Census Catalogue of the Flora of Ireland. Dublin
- Howard, Michael. Traditional Folk Remedies, (Century, 1987); p
- "Cuckooflower | Plant & fungi species | Wild plants". www.plantlife.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
- Blanchan, Neltje (2002). Wild Flowers: An Aid to Knowledge of our Wild Flowers and their Insect Visitors. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.
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