Cardiidae Lamarck, 1809
Cardiidae Report on ITIS
Cockle is the common name for a group of (mostly) small, edible, saltwater clams, marine bivalve molluscs in the family Cardiidae.
Various species of cockles live in sandy sheltered beaches throughout the world.
The distinctive rounded shells of cockles are symmetrical, and are heart-shaped when viewed from the end. In most but not all genera there are numerous radial ribs. For an exception, see the genus Laevicardium, the egg cockles, which have very smooth shells.
Cockles are capable of 'jumping' by bending and straightening the foot.
Like many bivalves, cockles are hermaphroditic and some species reach maturity quickly.
There are more than 200 living species of cockles, with many more fossil forms.
The common cockle, Cerastoderma edule, is widely distributed around the coastlines of Northern Europe with a range extending west to Ireland, the Barents Sea in the north, Norway in the east, and as far south as Senegal.
The dog cockle, Glycymeris glycymeris, has a similar range and habitat to the common cockle, but is unrelated. It is inedible due to its toughness when cooked, although a process is being developed to solve this.
The blood cockle, Anadara granosa (not related to the true cockles, instead in the family Arcidae) is extensively cultured from southern Korea to Malaysia.
An example of group of true cockles that have shells which are completely smooth, without ribs, is the genus Laevicardium. These are often known as egg cockles.
Cockles are sold freshly cooked as a snack in the United Kingdom, particularly around the parts of the British coastline which are inhabited by cockles. Boiled then seasoned with malt vinegar and white pepper, they can be bought from seafood stalls, alongside mussels, whelks, jellied eels, crabs and shrimps. Cockles are also available pickled in jars, and more recently, have been sold in sealed packets (with vinegar) containing a plastic two-pronged fork. A meal of cockles fried with bacon, served with laver bread, is known as a traditional Welsh breakfast.
Boiled cockles (sometimes grilled) are sold at many hawker centers in South East Asia, and are used in laksa, char kway teow and steamboat (food).
Consumption of raw cockles has been linked to hepatitis.
Cockles are an effective bait for a wide variety of sea fishes.
The folk song Molly Malone is also known as Cockles and Mussels because the titular character's sale of the two foods is referenced in the song's refrain.
They are also mentioned in the English nursery rhyme Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary.
The now relatively uncommon English phrase 'it warms the cockles of my heart', is used to signify that a feeling of deep-seated contentment is triggered.
A number of differing derivations of this phrase have been proposed, either directly from the perceived heart-shape of a cockleshell, or indirectly (the scientific name for the type genus of the family is Cardium, from the Greek for heart), or from the Latin diminutive of the word heart, corculum. Another proposed derivation is from the Latin for the ventricles of the heart, cochleae cordis, where the second word is an inflected form of cor, heart, while cochlea is the Latin for snail.
1. ^ Cardiidae (Cockles)
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License