Saturday, 17 May 2014

More than just one Cuckoo flower ?

The Cuckoo flowers have done well at the park this year,
I have found them growing in areas of the park.

These little flowers have been good for all the Butterfly's, especially the Orange Tip.

But what I have notice is there are three different types of plant, just slight differences  between them,


flower (3) is a Cuckoo /Lady's Smock flower Cardamine pratensis  
flower (2) is the same but a double variety                                         
flower (1) is White Cuckoo  Bitter-cress                                            
Flower (1) is a Hybridised with Bittercress, Cardamine ---------- there are many hybrids, the best match is 
(Cardamine dentata schult)   White Cuckoo  bitter-cress (link)     

                                       Flower 1                                       Flower 2                                         Flower 3

                                            Plant 1                                           Plant 2                                          Plant 3

                                            Leaf 1                                             Leaf 2                                           Leaf 3

(leaf (3) base leaf and leaf (2) stalk leaf, found on both (2) and (3) flower)

When you are out in the field all the flowers kida look the same, it was not till I put them all together here you can see how different these three plants are, especially the leaves. And plant one is so different to plant three.

More information  Wild flower finder

Any help will be gratefully received..


  1. I think they might be different species- if the leaves are that different that's usually a good indicator. I'll have a dig in my Francis Rose book (have you got it? If not, def worth a purchase) and see what comes back x

  2. Just had v quick look- have a look at Cardamine family- all have 4 petals, pink or white and include the cuckoo flower so closely related. Might be a good place to start? x

    1. Thanks for the help, have up-dated the post with new information, flower 1 is crossed with bitter cress, lots of hybrids though, gone with White Cuckoo bitter cress ....bitter cress has four stamens were as these flowers have six, helps to tell them apart.

  3. The one on the left doesn't look at all familiar to me but does look like a brassica of some sort. Think no. 3 is the Cuckoo flower but don't quote me. The flowers in the middle are interesting looking! :-)

    1. Thanks Mandy, these plants have been driving me mad, it's good to put them all together like this as you can really see the difference, I knew they were all cuckoo flowers but hadn't realised there was so many hybrids.Flower two is a lovely looking plant,grass near park has not been cut so I think they have had chance to grow..

  4. Well I was certainly not aware of that Amanda. I always thought there was one species. I will have to look for the variation. As you say the Orange Tip like them. Its a good spot next to a Cuckoo flower to wait for them to come along and pitch.

    1. Thanks Roy, flower one likes it very wet, found some more yesterday next to a stream, and I think flower two has grown this year because they have stopped cutting the grass were they are... Good hunting.. Updated blog with names of each flower.

  5. Hi Amanda, I think the one on the left is a different genus/species but I think the middle one is cuckoo flower with an abnormal flower where the ovary has been converted into extra petals. I occasionally see double-flowered cuckoo flowers, where the stamens and the ovary have become petals, and they are occasionally cultivated - my grandmother used to grow the double-flowered form in her garden, 50 years ago. Cuckoo flower is a very variable species with a very variable chromosome number, which gives rise to many different forms - see and also

    The growth conditions can have a big impact on the form of this species too.

    Incidentally, you can propagate cuckoo flower by picking one of the basal leaves and laying it on wet soil, keeping it moist in a polythene bag - lots of little plants form at the base of the leaflets. Best wishes, Phil

    1. Thanks Phil for this information, quite a complxed little flower, going to give picking the leaf idea a go.

  6. Very interesting and informative discussion. Have picked a basal leaf from the one and only cuckoo flower that's growing in our garden and will give Phil's suggestion a try. Great post (has answered a question for me about the double flower variety, which we saw in Dartmoor) x