Bleeding Heart, Dicentra

Dicentra is a genus of 8 species of perennial herbaceous plants in the Fumariaceae family. The plant may also be referred to as the Bleeding heart.

plants have bisymmetric, heart-shaped flowers. The two outer petals are spurred at the base and curve backwards at the tip. The two inner petals are straight and connect at the tip. They contain four petals and two tiny sepals. The leaves of Dicentra are contained in a basal rosette. The flowers are grown on leafless stalks. In other similar families with bisymmetric, heart-shaped flowers, the leaves grow on the flower stalks as well as at the base. Dicentra has two compound stamens made up of one median and two lateral half stamens fused together. They are held between the inner petals with the pistil.

The seeds of Dicentra contain elaiosomes at their base. Elaiosomes are an edible part of the seed that doesn’t destroy the seed itself. Ants carry the seeds away to feed upon it, distributing the seed in the process. All other parts of this plant are poisonous.

Dicentra can be found in Eastern Asia and North America. The 8 species are Dicentra canadensis, Dicentra cucullaria, Dicentra eximia, Dicentra formosa, Dicentra nevadensis, Dicentra pauciflora, Dicentra peregrina, and Dicentra uniflora.

Image Caption: Bleeding Heart, Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria). Credit: Aphidoidea/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)