Ladies Smock (Cardamine pratensis) Identification

Ladies Smock / All Year Round / Edible

Identification Guide for Ladies Smock

A perennial member of the Brassica family, with a delicious mustardy taste.


Common Names

Ladies Smock, Cuckoo flower, Mayflower or Milkmaids.


Botanical Name

Cardamine pratensis


Scientific Classification

Kingdom – Plantae

Order – Brassicales

Family – Brassicaceae


Physical Characteristics for Ladies Smock

Leaves

The plant grows as a rosette. The leaves are compound, pinnate and around 5-12 cm long, made up of 6-15 leaflets.

Tremello, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Flowers

The flowers appear on a long, thin spike. They are pinkish to white and arranged in the typical cruciform pattern like other Brassicas.

Nicolas Weghaupt, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Seeds

The seeds appear after the flowers drop and are long and thin.

Guido Gerding, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

Habitat

They seem to prefer damp ground and can be found in ditches, river banks, hedgerows and parks.


Known Hazards

None known.


Could be Confused with…

It could be confused with other Cardimines but they are all edible.


Edible Uses

All of the aerial parts are edible and can be used raw as a substitute for rocket or cooked like spinach.


Notes on Herbal Uses

Traditionally a tea made from the leaves was used as a springtime tonic or for menstrual issues, for example, to treat a heavy period.


Extra notes from the Foragers

The common name Cuckoo Flower refers to the time of year the plant flowers in early spring the same time that cuckoo’s appear.

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