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  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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Cardamine pratensis Cuckoo Flower
Cardamine pratensis Cuckoo Flower
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 Apr to June, and the seeds ripen from May to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, lepidoptera.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.


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].


Other Uses
None known
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].
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
Found In
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 NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Cardamine amaraLarge Bittercress31
Cardamine amaraeformis 20
Cardamine bonariensis 20
Cardamine bulbiferaCoral Root, Coralroot bittercress20
Cardamine bulbosaBulbous Bittercress20
Cardamine debilisRoadside bittercress20
Cardamine fauriei 20
Cardamine flexuosaWavy Bittercress,Woodland bittercress20
Cardamine glacialis 20
Cardamine heptaphylla 20
Cardamine hirsutaHairy Bittercress30
Cardamine impatiensNarrowleaf bittercress21
Cardamine kitaibelii 20
Cardamine komarovii 20
Cardamine leucantha 21
Cardamine loxostemonoidesCuckoo Flower10
Cardamine lyrata 20
Cardamine macrophylla 20
Cardamine nasturtioides 20
Cardamine nipponica 10
Cardamine oligospermaSpring Cress, Little western bittercress, Umbel bittercress21
Cardamine pennsylvanicaBittercress21
Cardamine pentaphyllos 20
Cardamine prorepens 20
Cardamine raphanifolia 10
Cardamine rotundifoliaAmerican Water Cress, American bittercress20
Cardamine schinziana 20
Cardamine scutata 20
Cardamine trifolia 10


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Botanical References
Links / 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 an image libuary with over 10000 native species to Britian and Europe

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Subject : Cardamine pratensis  

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Edible Uses
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