A small family, widely distributed; very smooth, tender, perennial herbs, with watery juice; alternate, compound leaves, finely cut, lobed and fringed into many divisions, and irregular, perfect flowers, of peculiar shape, with two, scale-like sepals, and four petals, the inner pair narrower than the outer and united by their tips over the stamens and style. The six stamens are in two, equal sets, the filaments of each set somewhat united, the middle anther of each set with two cells, me others with only one. The superior ovary develops into a long, dry, one-celled capsule, containing shiny, black seeds. This family has been united to the Poppies by Bentham and Hooker, because the plan of the flowers is similar, though their appearance is unlike.
There are several kinds of Bicuculla, natives of North America and Asia; perennials, with beautiful foliage and decorative flowers, of the curious and intricate shape we are familiar with in old-fashioned gardens. The pedicels have two bracts; the corolla is heart-shaped at base; the outer pair of petals are oblong and concave, with spreading tips and spurred or pouched at base, the inner pair are narrow and clawed, with crests or wings on the back; the style is slender, with a two-lobed stigma, each lobe with two crests. The creeping rootstock is surrounded by a bulb-like cluster of fleshy grains. These plants are often called Dutchman's Breeches, from the shape of the flower, which, of course, also gives the pretty name Bleeding Heart. Bicuculla is from the Latin, meaning "double-hooded."