Plant of the week – 1st June 2020 – Cuckooflower

Cardamine pratensis is an herbaceous perennial with clusters of 4-petalled flowers that appear between April and June. They are pink, white or lilac-tinged and the anthers are yellow. The leaves are pinnate, the lower ones in the basal rosette with rounded leaflets and the stem leaves with elongated leaflets. It is variable in height and can get up to around 60cm, though is often shorter. It is found in grassy places, usually in damp areas or by streams, so look for it in pastures, road verges and unmown parks. Reflecting its habitat, its specific epithet – pratensis – means ‘of the meadow’.

Cuckooflower is a common species found throughout the UK and native to much of Europe and western Asia. The common name ‘cuckooflower’ comes from the fact that it begins flowering at about the same time the cuckoos start calling in spring. The plant is an important food plant for the orange-tip butterfly, Anthocharis cardamines.

Cardamine pratensis is in the Brassicaceae family, along with cabbage, mustard and honesty. You can watch a short video on how to identify the Brassicaceae below.

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