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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Bitter Cress, Cuckoo Flower, Lady's Smock, Meadow Cress, Milkmaids
(Cardamine pratensis)

CONTAINS: Vitamin C (high), mustard oil glycosides.

This member of the mustard family is an unbranched perennial to 15 inches native to the north temperate zone and found on the banks of rivers and wet meadows. LEAVES are dark green and narrow; FLOWERS appear in clusters of a silver-mauve color from April to July. Its taste is bitter, resembling watercress.

Mentioned by Shakespeare, its common name of Lady's Smock is said by some sources to be derived from its time of bloom which occurs in Lady-tide and in reference to Our Lady. The scientific name of Cardamine is derived from its common belief that it strengthened the heart.

PROPAGATION: By SEED sown in spring, LEAF-TIP CUTTINGS in midsummer, by DIVISION in spring or fall, ROOT DIVISION in fall. Will also reproduce from tiny PLANTLETS which appear on the leaves - these are detached and placed on top of potting soil.
NEEDS: Grown as an ornamental in moist, humusy soil and sun to part sun. Plant 10 inches apart.
HARVEST: Leaves in spring and summer - used fresh or frozen.
RELATED VARIETIES: C.p. 'Flore Pleno' (propagated by cuttings only).
Cardamine rotundifolia: Leaves were eaten by Native Americans.
Cardamine diphylla syn Dentaria diphylla: The roots were eaten by the Iroquois either raw with salt or boiled.


Tonic, cleanser, antispasmodic, expectorant.
Has been used internally for chronic skin problems, asthma, spasmodic asthma, hysteria.
Once used for epilepsy (12 grains 3 times daily) and for strengthening the heart (same dose).
Contains high amounts of vitamin C and the leaves were once eaten to prevent scurvy.

Has been used for farm animals to treat nervous problems, especially convulsions in young animals; also blood disorders and skin diseases. DOSE = 1 handful of the herb brewed in 1 pint of water; 4 tbsp of molasses is then added; given 1 cup in the morning.

Young leaves have been used in salads.

Eaten by sheep and goats, but not other animals.

©2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH