FUMITORY FAMILY - Fumariaceae: Dutchman's Breeches; White Hearts; Soldier's Cap; Ear-drops

Dicentra Cucullaria

Flowers--White, tipped with yellow, nodding in a 1-sided raceme. Two scale-like sepals; corolla of 4 petals, in 2 pairs, somewhat cohering into a heart-shaped, flattened, irregular flower, the outer pair of petals extended into 2 widely spread spurs, the small inner petals united above; 6 stamens in 2 sets; style slender, with a 2-lobed stigma. Scape: 5 to 10 in. high, smooth, from a bulbous root. Leaves: Finely cut, thrice compound, pale beneath, on slender petioles, all from base.

Preferred Habitat--Rich, rocky woods.

Flowering Season--April-May.

Distribution--Nova Scotia to the Carolinas, west to Nebraska.

Rich leaf mould, accumulated between crevices of rock, makes the ideal home of this delicate yet striking flower, coarse-named, but refined in all its parts. Consistent with the dainty, heart-shaped blossoms that hang trembling along the slender stem like pendants from a lady's ear, are the finely dissected, lace-like leaves, the whole plant repudiating by its femininity its most popular name. It was Thoreau who observed that only those plants which require but little light, and can stand the drip of trees, prefer to dwell in the woods--plants which have commonly more beauty in their leaves than in their pale and almost colorless blossoms. Certainly few woodland dwellers have more delicately beautiful foliage than the fumitory tribe.