Milk Maids

Cardamine californica

Milk Maids

Cardamine californica

Milk Maids is one of the first wildflowers to bloom, with a long bloom time from early spring to early summer. Dainty white flowers bloom in a cluster on a stem that can grow to about 1 foot. The more dappled the shade, the shorter the stem.

Milk Maids need to be treated gently in the wild and the garden as it easily bruises. It will not die as it is hardy, but it may result in reduced blooms. That extra attention is worth the effort. It is a beneficial plant for early pollinators and a delight to come upon when not much else is in bloom.

It grows in various habitats, from chaparral and grasslands to its preferred shady slopes and open woodlands. This perennial plant gently spreads by seed and occasionally creates clusters of plants faithfully returning every year. It likes to be at the edge and often reseeds the front of a site or garden bed.

The flower may be hard to spot in the late afternoon as the sun goes down and it closes its petals or in the rain to protect the pollen.

Cardamine californica
Milk maids

Native Plant

Plant Category   Perennial, spring ephemeral
Flowering Time   Spring
Fruiting Time   Late spring, summer
Planting Time   Winter
Where to Plant   Shady slopes, open woodlands, edges of grasslands
Soil and Light   Tolerates a variety of soils, part shade, full shade
Companion Plants   Native ferns, Oaks, Tan Oak, Redwood, Houndstongue, native lilies
Wildlife   Butterflies (Sara Orangetip), moths, insects