Cuckoo flower – Cardamine nymanii

Alaska Wildflowers | Pink

The cuckoo flower (cardamine nymanii) in Fairbanks, Alaska

Cuckoo flower

Cardamine nymanii

Common Names

cuckoo flower
fairy flower
lady smock
lady’s smock
meadowcress
milkmaids
our lady’s smock

Synonyms

Cardamine pratensis var. angustifolia

I would like to note that there is not much documented difference between Cardamine nymanii and the more widespread Cardamine pratensis other than the leaves being slightly smaller in Cardamine nymanii. It seems that the name Cardamine nymanii (or rather the original subspecies listing Cardamine pratensis var. angustifolia) was given to the more widespread North American population (with the smaller leaves). The main distinction that I came across is in the reproductive morphology – the diploid number for Cardamine pratensis is 2n=16 while in Cardamine nymanii is 2n=56, 60, 64, 80-100. Since most of us don’t have the ability to test the chromosomes of plants in the field, I’ll lump our Alaska species into Cardamine nymanii, although it’s likely both are present. They are both most commonly called the cuckoo flower anyway, so I’ll leave it at that.

Subspecies

none

Genus: Cardamine
Family: Brassicaceae
Order: Brassicales
full classification



Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Forb/herb

Uses

For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

There are no documented uses for Cardamine nymanii, but the leaves of the more widespread Cardamine pratensis (of which Cardamine nymanii was originally listed as a subspecies) are edible and can be eaten as food in salads. They are said to have a peppery taste.

Identification and Information

The cuckoo flower is a herbaceous, perennial, pink flowering plant, often found in wet soils near ponds or streams. It has fibrous roots and aerial stems that are erect and typically unbranched, standing 10-50 cm (4-20 in) tall. Most of the leaves are basal and compound, 8-15 mm wide. The leaflets are petiolulate or sessile. The leaf blades are compound and 25-45 mm long and veined. In general, the leaves may be highly variable but tend to be fern-like in shape.

The inflorescence is a raceme with 6-14 pink or light violet flowers (can be fewer). The flowers are about 1-2 cm in diameter attached to the stem via a pedicels. The flower has 4 green or purple sepals and 4 petals with darker colored veins. Each flower has 6 stamens with yellow anthers. The fruits are yellow or brown and cylindrical, with 10-11 seeds lined inside at the margins.

Distribution and Habitat

Cardamine nymanii has a circumpolar distribution around North America and Eurasia. For the map locations above, I use data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and Flora of North America, which seemed to be in agreement for the North American Distribution. The USDA database included all territories in Canada, although, as noted before there might be some confusion with the almost identical species Cardamine pratensis.

The cuckoo flower lives in moist areas like near ponds, marshes, streams, rivers, and wet meadows. It’s also frequently found in drained pond beds or dried seasonal ponds. It prefers soil with high organic content like peat.


Affiliate link – I earn a commission if you shop through the link(s) below at no additional cost to you (more info)
Unlimited Photo Storage

Classification

RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae  (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
   SubkingdomViridiplantae  (green plants)
      InfrakingdomStreptophyta  (land plants)
         SuperdivisionEmbryophyta 
            DivisionTracheophyta  (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
               SubdivisionSpermatophytina  (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
                  ClassMagnoliopsida 
                     SuperorderRosanae 
                        OrderBrassicales 
                           FamilyBrassicaceae  (mustards, moutardes, crucifers)
                              GenusCardamine L. (bittercress)
                                 SpeciesCardamine nymanii Gand. (cuckoo flower)

References and Further Reading

Classification and Taxonomy

Cardamine pratensis L. var. angustifolia Hook. cuckoo flower – USDA Database

Cardamine pratensis  L. Taxonomic Serial No.: 22773, ITIS Database

Uses

Cuckooflower Cardamine pratensis – Plantlife

Distribution

Cardamine nymanii Gand., Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)

Identification and information

Cardamine pratensis L. subsp. angustifolia (Hooker) O.E. Schultz, Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago

27. Cardamine nymanii Gandoger, Bull. Soc. Bot. France. 72: 1043. 1925. (as nymani)., Flora of North America

Support This Site

Consider becoming a member to access exclusive perks and support the sustainability of this valuable resource. Already a member? Log in here!

Level

Free

Trailblazer Monthly

Explorer Monthly

Patron Monthly

Price

Free.

$3.00 per Month.

$6.00 per Month.

$10.00 per Month.

Description

golden sunlight diffuses through the dense stand of snow-laden spruce trees, casting long shadows and bathing the forest in a warm, hazy light.

  Select Select Select Select
Occasional Newsletter Yes Yes Yes Yes
Free Articles Yes Yes Yes Yes
Exclusive Content* No Yes Yes Yes
Ad-free browsing** No No Yes Yes
Discounts on Prints No No Yes Yes
Priority Responses For Questions No No No Yes
Advanced Notice On New Content No No No Yes
More In-depth Content No No No Yes
  Select Select Select Select

Free

golden sunlight diffuses through the dense stand of snow-laden spruce trees, casting long shadows and bathing the forest in a warm, hazy light.

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
Select

Free.

Trailblazer Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
Select

$3.00 per Month.

Explorer Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
  • Ad-free browsing**
  • Discounts on Prints
Select

$6.00 per Month.

Patron Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
  • Ad-free browsing**
  • Discounts on Prints
  • Priority Responses For Questions
  • Advanced Notice On New Content
  • More In-depth Content
Select

$10.00 per Month.

* I don’t plan on hiding much content behind a paywall because I believe it should be open and accessible to all. However, maintaining this website involves a significant investment of both time and money. I spend countless hours building and writing these pages and articles and incur thousands of dollars annually to keep the site running.

Your support through membership helps cover these expenses and allows me to continue providing high-quality content. Membership allows you to access exclusive perks and content and contribute to this valuable resource's sustainability. Thank you for your support!

** Ads and affiliate links will still be shown on relevant content, like in gear reviews.

   

Add a comment

*Please complete all fields correctly

Related Posts

Cypripedium guttatum spotted lady’s slipper
Vaccinium uliginosum Bog bilberry
The purple flower with numerous yellow stamens of the prairie pasqueflower (Pulsatilla nuttalliana)