Cardamine pratensis is a herbaceous, hairless, perennial plant growing to 4060 cm tall, with pinnate leaves 512 cm long with 3-15 leaflets, each leaflet about 1 cm long. The flowers are produced on a spike 1030 cm long, each flower 12 cm diameter with four pale pink (rarely white) petals. The style of the fruit is short or longish. It grows best close to water. It is common throughout the British Isles.

It is grown as an ornamental plant in gardens, and has become naturalised in North America as a result of cultivation. In some European countries, including parts of Germany, the plant is now under threat.

It is a food plant for the orange tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines); see here, (although shown here with a Large White) and makes a valuable addition to any garden which aims at attracting wildlife. It was once used as a substitute for watercress.

In folklore it was said to be sacred to the fairies, and so was unlucky if brought indoors. It was not included in May Day garlands for the same reason.