The Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis), also known as Lady’s-smock, is a common plant of meadows and moist woods. A literal translation from its Latin name is meadow (pratensis) cress (from the Greek, kardamis). Other wildlife shares the specific epithet, ‘pratensis’ in a similar way such as; Meadow Sage (Salvia pratensis) and Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis). The Cardamines are a large genus of pungent herbs, many known as bitter cresses, and part of the larger Crucifer or Cabbage family. The crucifers are so named due to having 4 free petals arranged in a cross. It is hard to see the cabbage in a cuckooflower unless you have let your brassicas go to flower and then the yellow cruciferic petals become all too familiar.
The closely related bitter cresses, such as Wavy Bitter-cress (Cardamine flexuosa) are common in our garden at the moment, and are a great addition to a salad, sandwich or simply to graze on. The Cuckooflower is also very edible and once used as a salad vegetable (*). However, I would rather leave them to enliven the verge and feed other wildlife such as the Orange Tip butterfly.
(*) Plants for a Future (www.pfaf.org)