Cuckoo

A very common name for LADY'S SMOCK is Cuckoo-flower, because it is in flower when the cuckoos are about. The name can appear quite simply as Cuckoo, but in Wiltshire it is sometimes known as Water Cuckoo, or Wet Cuckoo (Dartnell & Goddard), a comment on its favoured habitat (Dry Cuckoo is Saxifraga granulata, the Meadow Saxifrage). A number of other 'cuckoo' names are recorded in English. It is blodau'r gog in Welsh (Hardy), and Glauchsblume or Kukkuksblume in Germany (Grimm), where in some parts they claim that it grows abundantly where the earth is full of minerals. The point is that the cuckoo, by its call, is also thought to perform the same function, for it will show the whereabouts of a mine (Buckland). Cuckoo-spit, another name for Lady's Smock, is the froth enveloping a pale green insect found on the flowers, and the name is sometimes, as in this case, transferred to the plants themselves (see also WOOD ANEMONE, CUCKOO PINT, and RED CAMPION). Few North country children would pick Lady's Smock, for it was unlucky because the cuckoo had spat on them while flying over (Dyer. 1889).

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