Lady’s Bedstraw Benefits, Uses on Recipes

Yellow Bedstraw FR: Caille-lait, Gaillet GER: Echtes Labkraut IT: Caglio or Presvola SP: Galio

BOT: Galium verum FAM: Rubiaceae

This common European and British wild plant is now a weed in parts of the eastern United States. It sprawls and has tiny yellow flowers. It was once used by people (presumably ladies) to sleep on because of its smell of fragrant hay. Belonging to the same family as the plant from which was extracted the dye, madder, a dye was also extracted from bedstraw, although its chief use is to curdle milk in cheese making as the juice acts in the same way as rennet. The name Galium is from galion, a plant mentioned by Dioscorides as suitable for curdling milk.

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Lady’s Smock

Bitter-cress, Cardamine, Cuckoo Flower FR: Cardamine des pres, Cresson elegant GER: Wiesenschaumkraut

IT: Billeri, Crescione dei prati, Cardamine, Viola da pesci

SP: Cardamina

BOT: Cardamine pratensis

FAM: Cruciferae

ILL: Plate 16, No. 5

This common wild plant of moist meadows in Europe and North America is known to almost everyone for its pale pink-mauve or white flowers, the four petals of which are arranged in the typical cross of the family. Its alternative name, bitter-cress, suggests correctly that it is related to watercress and can be used in the same ways, having a somewhat similar flavour. Since it is one of the first plants of spring (it often starts to flower in April), it is useful in early mixed salads. It contains valuable minerals. Older blogs describe large bunches on sale in continental markets. The word cardamine comes originally from the Greek meaning ‘to overpower the heart’, which refers to the supposed medicinal qualities of lady’s smock.

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