Hairy bittercress is a pleasantly tangy plant, fleshier and sweeter than watercress.
Hairy bittercress is a one of the first edible weeds to be pickable early in the year.
The whole plant can be eaten, and has a pleasantly sweet, mild peppery flavour. It can be used in salads, sandwiches, and as a substitute for cress, and has an affinity with cream cheese.
The slightly more spicy leaves of lady's smock, or cuckooflower (another member of the Cardamine family, C. pratensis), can be used in the same way. A medium, hairless perennial, cuckooflower is a common and widespread species of roadsides, river banks, ditches and damp grassland. The name 'cuckooflower' is shared at a local level with a number of other spring flowers, as they were an indicator of when the cuckoo was first heard in the year. However, for Cardamine pratensis, the belief that the first flowering of the plant heralds the spring song of the cuckoo has been proven in a number of areas throughout the country, from Farnham in Surrey to Dumfries in Scotland. Flowers April to June.