Forage Friday #105 Cuckoo Flower

Hello Friends! Tonight’s Feature Image was taken specifically for Forage Friday. All photos found on my website are my original work unless otherwise specified and are available for purchase by clicking the thumbnail and reaching out to me on the contact page.

Please remember that Forage Friday is presented as trivia and not to be mistaken for medical advice.

The rain settles out in my Appalachian Mountains and with the emergence of the sun I’m drawn out of the house for a bit of fresh air. I’ve given a strip of space around my yard back to nature and with the expectation of trimming back some trees that would endangere my house I let what wants to grow there be there. Occasionally something new to me pops up and get to learn all about it and observe it throughout its life cycle. That’s how I was introduced to the cuckoo flower. Cuckoo flower gets its common name because it appears at about the same time that the Cuckoo bird begins to make it’s distinctive call. Which struck me as odd because because the Cuckoo is a native of North America and the Cuckoo flower is native to Europe and Asia. But Cuckoo flower is also known as milk maids so perhaps it didn’t get to be called Cuckoo flower until it arrived here.

Cuckoo flower is a type of mustard and that puts it in the Brassicaceae family just like broccoli and cauliflower. It’s been here in North America long enough to have been naturalized and a common “weed” in yards and gardens. Like many so called weeds cuckoo flower actually comes with some benefits.

For the naturalist and wildlife lovers cuckoo flower attracts the orange tip butterflies which at this point I believe to be a European species but I could be wrong. I have noticed that they seem to attract insects of many types. There are actually three different insects on the flowers in the Featured Image. One looks like a flea beetle and I’m guessing that it’s the wings of a tacinid fly sticking out from behind one of the blooms. The third I haven’t identified. But they all seem to like the cuckoo flower. And with good reason. In spite of the bitter flavor cuckoo flower is rich in vitamin C and can be eaten raw or cooked. The young plants are said to have the mildest flavor and are compared to watercress. But because the flavor is pungent small portions added to other ingredients is recommended.

Cuckoo flower isn’t often mentioned in my herbal manuals but it has been used as a digestive aid. Something that I seldom point out is the timing of gathering medicinal herbs. For cuckoo flower the medicinal values are highest when the plant have flowers. There are mentions that the plants are used internally for chronic skin problems and asthma.

There’s not really much more on cuckoo flower. I’m presuming the short season and strong flavor keeps it from being popular and is therefore left for the butterflies. But if times were tough and we needed nutrients it is a resource that’s available early when regular garden plants are just getting started.

Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.

Announcement 2.0

For those who have been following me on Facebook and know of the struggle content providers have to get circulation from big tech I’ve been recommending for people to adopt MeWe as a social media platform. One of the problems I’ve run into on MeWe is that people don’t know how to navigate the platform. So to help with that I’ve created a permanent page on my website as a basic Basic Beginner’s Guide To MeWe I’ve tried to anticipate all basic questions there and You can bookmark the page to have as a reference and if you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact me. I do still have a day job and I help admin several pages on both platforms so replies might be a little slow but I will answer you.

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