Lady’s Smock is in flower. At first I only found one little flower hiding in a ditch.
It wasn’t long before I was finding them in drifts.
So this is a post about foraging for food in country lanes and more specifically it is about foraging for Lady’s Smock (Cardamine pratensis).
It is okay to pick flowers for the table, there is even a code of practice laid out for would be foragers by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.
It basically says to be sensible, only take them when they are plentiful, only take a few, leave things looking as you found them.
You can’t uproot flowers and take them home with you.
Before we can forage for anything we have to be able to identify it. There are lots of poisonous plants and my approach has always been to make sure that I know what I am picking, I am not one for trying things out that I am not sure about. This flower is pretty easy to identify.
It is about eighteen inches tall with a head of small pink flowers.
Each flower has four, pale pink/lilac petals
The leaflets are long and narrow and they look like this.
Lady’s Smock is also called Cuckoo Flower. It flowers from April until late June.
In folk lore Lady’s Smock is often associated with adders, for instance picking it is said to attract adders or that if you pick it you will be bitten by an adder. Such lore makes perfect sense, The flower’s habitat is perfect for adders and it flowers during the adders breeding season (Late April/early May) a time when these snakes are most easy to approach and most often seen because they are not so wary of people, they are focussed on the breeding.
The plant has a long history of medicinal use. It was once a very popular treatment for epilepsy at a time when epilepsy was regarded as a form of madness and cures were broadly based on the magical qualities of the plant. More sensibly it was seen as a good cure for scurvy and it probably was, it is very high in vitamin C, which is an excellent reason for putting it in your salad.
Okay Lady’s Smock is just a flavour, it is not the main course, it has a peppery flavour. I have heard it likened to Radish with a bit of a hot kick but I would say more like Rocket. I like it very much.
I have also collected Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum), Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and Primrose (Primula vulgaris). I will write about them in other posts. It all makes for a nice little salad dish and it is all free. I hate buying and throwing out bags of salad when it is growing just down the lane.
Now I just have to jazz that up a little bit.
Every part of the Lady’s Smock is edible. I have left out the stems because I find them stringy but you can eat them. The flowers are delicious.
I am having my salad with a roast chicken as I did this yesterday (Sunday) and I am serving it with mango sauce (Chicken gravy with a couple of spoonfuls of mango chutney stirred in) and roast potatoes.
Well that was yesterday and that has been eaten, it was the best Sunday roast ever. Fortunately I had a bag of leaves left over.
As I write this I am enjoying black coffee and a cold chicken sandwich with sweet pepper and weeds and it is the best sandwich that I have ever had in my life.
Until next time.