Reddish Vale Country Park
Cardamine pratensis is a delicate meadow plant.
The flowers are pale pink to pinkish red and occasionally white, normally with four petals, but specimens with more petals are quite common.
After flowering, narrow seed pods up to 4cm long form on the stalk.
The cuckoo flower is found througout Europe in damp fertilised meadows and in light, damp deciduous woodland.
Cardamine pratensis is called the cuckoo plant because it flowers in April and May, when the cuckoo starts to sing.
Also known as Lady's smock and the Mayflower, the pilgrim fathers are thought to have named their ship, the Mayflower after this plant.
People in Germany used to beleive that if the cuckoo flower was picked and brought inside, the house would be struck by lightning.
A famous English physician- Mr Nicholas Culpeper, wrote in his book of 1826, that the cuckoo flower restored a lost appetite and helped digestion.
The cuckoo flower is a member of the cress family.
Small amounts of foam can frequently be found on the plants, and this is known as 'cuckoo spit'. It is caused by the larvae of the spittle bug, which sucks out the plant sap.
The flower is an important larval host plant and nectar source for the Orange-Tip and Green-Veined White butterflies.
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