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Lady’s Smock

Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer Winter Winter

With its beautiful cruciforme flowers this plant belongs to the Brassica family and tastes of English mustard or wasabi.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Lady’s Smock, Cuckoo Flower
Scientific Name Cardamine pratensis
Season Start Jan
Season End Dec
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Leaves

It has pinnate, compound leaves (leaves opposite each other on a stem with one terminal leaf at the end) which are thin when growing from the flower stem.

Basal Leaves

The basal leaves can usually be found year round and are much rounder than the flower stem leaves but are still compound.

Flowers

A beautiful crown of very pail pink/purple or sometimes white cruciforme flowers (four petals in a cross shape) growing in a ring at the top of the flower stem. The flowers droop and close at night or during heavy rain.

Seed Pods

Small and seed thin pods with tiny seeds within appear when the flowers drop.

Habitat

Fields, meadows, pastures, lawns, riversides, damp ditches and roadsides.

Possible Confusion

Before flowering it could be confused with some of the other Cardamines or cress family members but these are all edible.

Taste

The leaves taste of hot mustard or wasabi, the flowers faintly of cress with sweet and hot hints.

Frequency

Common in Spring.

Collecting

The leaves can be a bit small and fiddly to collect so take just a couple of flowers from each plant to add to a salad or dig around for the basal leaves.
The basal leaves can usually be found year round and before flowering can be in numbers worth collecting.

Medicinal Uses

A tea made with the leaves of this plant was often used in the past as a Spring tonic or for menstrual disorders, especially to treat heavy periods.

 

Other Facts

Its common name Cuckoo Flower refers to the arrival of the flowers at the same time as the cuckoo begins to sing.

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