Cuckoo Flower

cuckooflowerthumb.jpgSpring has very much sprung - and the Cuckoo Flower is out.


What Is Cuckoo Flower

Cardamine pratensis - also known by common names such as Lady's Smock and Milkmaids, this is a plant with slender stems, up to 30cm tall, topped with a cluster of white, pinkish or pale purple flowers.

You're most likely to find Cuckoo Flower in damp meadows and shady roadside banks. If you're intending to eat it, it's probably best not to gather it from the side of a busy road.

cuckooflower2.jpgPretty much the whole plant is edible - but the stems can be a bit stringy - the best bits are:

The lower, rounded leaves - tasting quite strongly of watercress, with a hot, radish-like kick
The upper, narrow leaves - sweeter, a little less pungent
The flowers - delicate, crunchy and slightly fragrant, but still with a good peppery tang.

cuckooflower3.jpgA closer look at the flowers

They're about 1 to 1.5cm across and may be borne in clusters of just a few, or upwards of a dozen.

Eating Cuckoo Flower

The plant is quite similar in flavour to watercress, and so could be used in many of the same ways - the edible flowers make a very interesting garnish, or colourful addition to a salad.

A Wayside Nibble

But my favourite way to enjoy this edible plant is just as a simple wayside nibble - picking one stalk and eating the flowers as I walk along, when I happen to encounter some growing as I am out walking.