RAGGED ROBIN (Lychnis flos-cuculi)

Ragged Robin

Ragged Robin in the Pocket Park

"....and should some great court-lady say, the Prince
hath picked a ragged-robin from the hedge,
and like a madman brought her to the court...."

Tennyson: "Idylls of the King"
(In this context "ragged robin" is used by Tennyson to mean a pretty damsel in ragged clothes).

This member of the Pink family is related to last month’s flower, the red campion, with which (in this part of England, at least) it is often confused. It is however not difficult to distinguish between them: ragged robin’s narrow petals give it the rather untidy appearance from which comes its popular name. To add to the confusion, however, its Latin specific name, flos-cuculi, means “cuckoo-flower”, a designation which it shares with lady’s smock.

Ragged robin is much rarer than red campion. It prefers damp, often shady, ground such as may be found along woodland rides. The flower may be seen in the wooded part of the Pocket Park (along the right-hand path). Though the flowers are usually pink, a white form seems to have become one of this year’s gardeners’ must-have plants.


Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service.
Image reproduced by kind permission of Ordnance Survey
and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Text by George Metcalfe. Photographs by Colin Wootton.