Plant of the Month - May

Each month we feature a picture of a plant growing on The Commons. All plants featured have been photographed here. This month, we are featuring the Cuckoo Flower.

Cuckoo Flower has many other local names including Lady's Smock and Milkmaids. It flowers in damp places such as grassland, road verges, ditches and riverbanks. Like its cousin watercress, it has a peppery taste and can be added to salads and sandwiches.

Its name may be associated with the presence of the cuckoo in May, that most unfaithful of birds. Or it may be a reference to the tendency for cuckoo-spit, the creamy froth from a small bug, to be found on the plant. The plant was once thought to be sacred to the fairies and so it was unlucky to bring the flowers indoors.

Shakespeare touches on the promiscuous associations of the plant in Love's Labours Lost:

" When daisies pied and violets blue
  And lady-smocks all silver white
  And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
  Do paint the meadows with delight
  The cuckoo then, on every tree
  Mocks married men....

More pictures and information can be found on the Wildlife Trusts website.

Click here to see other Plants of the Month.