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Cardamine pratensis - L.

Common Name Cuckoo Flower
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Moist, slightly shady places in meadows and by streams[13, 31, 187], usually in acid soils[9].
Range Most of Europe, including Britain, N. Asia and N. America.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Cardamine pratensis Cuckoo Flower


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Cardamine pratensis Cuckoo Flower
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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Cardamine pratensis is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to June, and the seeds ripen from May to July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Meadow; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves
Edible Uses:

Leaves and young shoots - raw or cooked[2, 5, 12, 52, 115]. Rich in vitamins and minerals[268], especially vitamin C[238], but with a bitter and pungent flavour[27]. The leaves and young shoots are harvested in the spring and taste rather like water cress[9]. The leaves can be available early in the year[K] and when used in small quantities make a very acceptable addition to salads[183, K]. Flowers and flower buds - raw. A pungent cress-like flavour[183, K]. The white flowers are very attractive, they make a pleasant nibble and also add a delicious flavour to salads[K].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antirheumatic  Antiscorbutic  Antispasmodic  Carminative  Digestive  Diuretic  Stimulant

Cuckoo flower is seldom used in herbalism, though an infusion of the leaves has been used to treat indigestion and promote appetite[268]. The leaves and the flowering plant are antirheumatic, antiscorbutic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, stimulant[9, 146, 172, 238, 240]. They are used internally in the treatment of chronic skin complaints, asthma and hysteria[238]. The plant is harvested in spring and early summer and is best used when fresh[9, 238].

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Edible Shrubs provides detailed information, attractively presented, on over 70 shrub species. They have been selected to provide a mix of different plant sizes and growing conditions. Most provide delicious and nutritious fruit, but many also have edible leaves, seeds, flowers, stems or roots, or they yield edible or useful oil.

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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most soils[1, 111] so long as they are moist or wet[187, 188]. Prefers a cool damp soil[111]. Succeeds in full sun or partial shade[238]. Cuckoo flower was at one time much used as a spring salad plant and was often sold in local markets. It has, however, fallen out of favour and is scarcely used at present[268]. A polymorphic species[17]. A very ornamental plant, non-invasive and well suited to the wild garden though it may require protection from wood pigeons who eat out the young buds in spring[187]. It grows well in the spring meadow[24]. A food plant for the orange tip butterfly[24]. There is at least one named variety, selected for its ornamental value. 'Flore Pleno' is a double flowered form[187]. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 5. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a clumper with limited spread [1-2]. The root pattern is rhizomatous with underground stems sending roots and shoots along their length [1-2].

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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Propagation

Seed - sow outdoors in a seedbed in a shady position in April. Plant out in autumn or spring. Division in spring or autumn[238]. The plant produces young plants at the base of its leaflets. When large enough, these can be easily separated from the main plant and grown on as individual plants[K].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Cardamine amaraLarge BittercressPerennial0.6 4-8  LMHSNM31 
Cardamine amaraeformis Annual0.0 -  LMHSNM20 
Cardamine bonariensis Annual0.0 -  LMHSNM20 
Cardamine bulbiferaCoral Root, Coralroot bittercressPerennial0.5 4-8  LMHSNM20 
Cardamine bulbosaBulbous BittercressPerennial0.5 4-8  LMHSNMWe20 
Cardamine debilisRoadside bittercressPerennial0.3 0-0  LMHSNM20 
Cardamine fauriei Perennial0.3 4-8  LMHSNMWe20 
Cardamine flexuosaWavy Bittercress,Woodland bittercressAnnual/Perennial0.5 4-8  LMHSNMWe20 
Cardamine glacialis Perennial0.3 -  LMHSNM20 
Cardamine heptaphylla Perennial0.4 -  LMHSNMWe20 
Cardamine hirsutaHairy BittercressAnnual0.3 4-8  LMHSNM301
Cardamine impatiensNarrowleaf bittercressAnnual/Biennial0.6 4-8  LMHSNMWe210
Cardamine kitaibelii Perennial0.2 5-9  LMHSNMWe20 
Cardamine komarovii Perennial0.3 -  LMHSNMWe20 
Cardamine leucantha Perennial0.6 4-8  LMHSNMWe21 
Cardamine loxostemonoidesCuckoo FlowerAnnual0.3 -  LMHSNM10 
Cardamine lyrata Perennial0.5 6-9  LMHSNMWe20 
Cardamine macrophylla Perennial0.3 5-9  LMHSNMWe20 
Cardamine nasturtioides Perennial0.3 -  LMHSNM20 
Cardamine nipponica Perennial0.1 -  LMHSNM10 
Cardamine oligospermaSpring Cress, Little western bittercress, Umbel bittercressAnnual/Biennial0.3 0-0  LMHSNMWe21 
Cardamine pennsylvanicaBittercressBiennial/Perennial0.6 4-8  LMHSNMWe21 
Cardamine pentaphyllos Perennial0.3 -  LMHSNMWe20 
Cardamine prorepens Perennial0.4 4-8  LMHSNMWe20 
Cardamine raphanifolia Perennial0.5 4-8  LMHFSMWe10 
Cardamine rotundifoliaAmerican Water Cress, American bittercressPerennial0.3 5-9  LMHSNMWeWa20 
Cardamine schinziana Perennial0.3 4-8  LMHSNMWe20 
Cardamine scutata Annual/Biennial0.3 4-8  LMHSNMWe20 
Cardamine trifolia Perennial0.2 6-9  LMHFSMWE10 
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Botanical References

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Readers comment

Tim Argles   Mon May 19 2008

There appears to be quite a large number of a double flowering form of the above Cardamine pratensis images can be seen on the link site below if you have any further information this would be useful

P-pod.co.uk an image libuary with over 10000 native species to Britian and Europe

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