Dicentra, double spur; from dis, twice, and kentron, a spur.
Low, stemless perennial. In rich open woods, ravines, and on hillsides. Nova Scotia to Minnesota and Washington, southward to North Carolina, Nebraska, and Missouri. Abundant in ravines of northern Ohio. April, May.
Composed of a large number of small tubers closely clustered together and having the appearance of a scaly bulb.
Five to ten inches high, bearing a simple raceme of flowers.
Delicate, grayish green, thrice compound, finely cut, borne on long, slender stems which rise from the root.
Borne in a nodding raceme on a scape, irregular, white, tipped with pale yellow.
Of two small, scale-like sepals.
Four petals in two pairs, somewhat cohering, forming a heart-shaped, flattened, irregular flower; the outer pair of petals extended into two divergent spurs; the small inner petals united above and protecting the slightly protruding stamens.
Six, in two sets; filaments slightly united in each set.
One; style slender; stigma two-lobed. Fruit. - Long, slender pod; ten to twenty seeds.
Pollinated by bumblebees and bee-like flies. Nectar-bearing. Anthers mature before the stigmas.
The forest floor of spring possesses nothing more exquisite and delightful than the foliage of the two Dicentras, which are alike in leaf, though differing in root and blossom. The plants grow in tufts and bunches and so form beds often covering a considerable area. All the leaves come directly from the root and not from stems. These are rather large, thrice compound, and so finely cut again and again that they present a spray-like, feathery appearance. These plants love the woodlands, and by spreading their green leaves before the trees are in leaf they have the spring sunshine, so they can do their work early, mature their seeds, store food in their roots for the leaves and blossoms of next year, and by midsummer they have retired from the field.
Dutchman's-Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria, is, if there is any difference at all, the prevailing western form. In northern Ohio both species occur, frequently together, but in any colony one species is always the more common; they never seem to share the space equally. Cucullaria is the wide-legged type, white with yellow tips, not fragrant, and the little legs are nectar pockets formed by two petals. Opposite these two petals are two others more or less spoon-shaped, with the spoon bowls united to protect the anthers and stigmas. There are two tiny, scale-like sepals. The seed-capsule is a long pod with a slender, pointed end, and opens lengthwise.
Single Flower of Dutchman's-Breeches. Dicentra cucullaria