Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: American Cuckoo-Flower, Lady's Smock
Cardamine pratensis

Family: Brassicaceae (brass-ih-KAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cardamine (kar-DAM-ih-nee) (Info)
Species: pratensis (pray-TEN-sis) (Info)

Synonym:Cardamine acaulis
Synonym:Cardamine buchtormensis
Synonym:Cardamine fontinalis
Synonym:Cardamine pratensis var. palustris
Synonym:Cardamine pratensis var. pratensis

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

4 members have or want this plant for trade.


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Pale Pink
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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1 positive
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral coriaceous On Mar 12, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Native to wet meadows, this species requires consistent moisture. I've lost it more than once in ordinary garden beds (in MA Z6a) that don't receive consistent irrigation.

This species is native to Europe and western Asia and naturalized in northern N. America. There's nothing "American" about it, even in the correct name. See:

The USDA Plants database, based on the BONAP data, erroneously indicates that this is native to the USA. That database is rife with such errors, and is the origin of rafts of errors in secondary sources.

Positive maccionoadha On Mar 12, 2015, maccionoadha from Halifax, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

This plant is native to the parts of Canada and the U.S.A. and are Threatened in Massachusetts and Endangered in Illinois, New Hampshire, and Ohio).

Neutral Baa On Nov 14, 2001, Baa wrote:

A perennial from Europe and Northern Hemisphere.

Has basal rosettes of pinate, mid-dark green, pinnate leaves with up to 7 pairs of rounded leaflets. Bears lilac, pink or white, small flowers with 4 notched petals.

Flowers April-June

Likes boggy or damp soil in partial shade.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Halifax, Massachusetts
Saint Helen, Michigan
Norwood, New York

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