Cardamine pratensis L. - Pink Cuckoo Bitter-cress


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Cardamine pratensis - (image 1 of 5)



Family: Brassicaceae


Lawns, floodplains, wet meadows, ditches.




Introduced across Canada (possibly native to western Canada), and south in the U.S. to VA, OH, IN, IL, WI, and MN.


Erect annual to biennial herb to 50 cm; basal leaves with long petioles, pinnate compound with 3-8 rounded leaflets, primary veins of terminal leaflet ending in an excurrent triangular callus tip; lower cauline leaves similar to the basal ones; upper cauline leaves shorter with more leaflets that are oblong to linear and more or less sessile; petals pink to white, obovate.


Flowers May to June

Wetland indicator: Obligate

Edible, with a pungent taste, but rare in several states. Cardamine dentata has been treated as a variety of this species in the past and still is in many U.S. states. While the petals are usually pink or lavender, white flowered forms can be distinguished from C. dentata by the leaflets of the basal and cauline leaves.


Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Ed.
The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY

Peterson, L. A. 1977. A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America
Houghton Mifflin Company. New York, NY

Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region. Indiana Academy of Science.
The Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.

USDA, NRCS. 2002. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.




 Michael Hough 2004