Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This native perennial plant is about 4-8" tall. It consists of a rosette of basal leaves spanning about 6" across. These basal leaves are greyish green and hairless. Each of these leaves is ternately compound and divided into 3 primary leaflets, while each primary leaflet is divided into 3 secondary leaflets. These secondary leaflets are pinnately cleft into linear or oblanceolate lobes. The petiole of each compound leaf is long and slender; it is often brown-colored. From the center of the rosette, there develops a drooping raceme of 2-6 pairs of white flowers. These flowers hang upside down from slender pedicels. In the middle of each pedicel, there is a pair of tiny bracts. Each flower is about ¾" long and assumes the form of upside down Dutchman's Breeches, hence the common name of the plant. It consists of 2 outer petals that are white and 2 inner petals that are pale yellow. The two outer petals form two nectar spurs that are long and spreading; they are joined together at the base. The two inner petals are much smaller and form the base of the flower; they have small wings that curl upward. The sepals of each flower are scale-like and insignificant. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-spring and lasts about 2-3 weeks. There is no noticeable floral scent. Each flower can develop into an oblongoid-ovoid seed capsule that tapers to a point on both ends. This seed capsule eventually splits apart into 2 segments to release the seeds. The root system consists of a bulbous base with fleshy scales and secondary roots.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Comments

This is a delightful spring wildflower of woodlands – both the flowers and foliage are attractive. Dutchman's Breeches is one of the earlier woodland wildflowers to bloom. The only other species with a similar appearance is Dicentra canadensis (Squirrel Corn). Squirrel Corn also occurs in mesic deciduous woodlands and blooms only a little later than Dutchman's Breeches. The nectar spurs of Squirrel Corn are shorter and more rounded than those of Dutchman's Breeches, and its white flowers are fragrant. It also has a root system that produces small edible tubers. Within the Fumitory family, Dicentra spp. differ from Corydalis spp. by the structure of their flowers – the former have flowers with 2 nectar spurs, while the latter have flowers with a single nectar spur.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Dutchman's Breeches is a common plant that occurs in nearly every county of Illinois. Habitats include deciduous mesic woodlands, especially along gentle slopes, ravines, or ledges along streams. This species occurs in original woodland that has never been plowed under or bulldozed over. It's abundance in such woodlands can be highly variable – from uncommon to common.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Bicuculla cucullaria (L.) Millsp.:
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Dicentra cucullaria (L.) Bernh.:
United States (North America)
Canada (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

N.B., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Ga., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Mo., Nebr., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., N.Dak., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants perennial, scapose, from short rootstocks bearing pink to white, teardrop-shaped bulblets. Leaves (10-)14-16(-36) × (4-)6-14(-18) cm; petiole (5-)8-16(-24) cm; blade with 4 orders of leaflets and lobes; abaxial surface glaucous; ultimate lobes linear to linear-elliptic or linear-obovate, (2-)5-15(-23) × (0.4-)2-3(-4.2) mm, usually minutely apiculate. Inflorescences racemose, 3-14-flowered, usually exceeding leaves; bracts minute. Flowers pendent; pedicels (2-)4-7(-12) mm; sepals broadly ovate, 1.8-5 × 1.3-4 mm; petals white, frequently suffused pink, apex yellow to orange-yellow; outer petals (10-)12-16(-20) × (3-)6-10(-13) mm, reflexed portion 2-5 mm; inner petals (7.5-)9-12(-14) mm, blade 1.8-4 mm, claw linear, 4-8 × less than 1 mm, crest prominent, ca. 2 mm diam.; filaments of each bundle connate from base to shortly below anthers; nectariferous tissue forming 1-3(-4.5) mm spur diverging at angle from base of bundle; style 2-4 mm; stigma 2-horned with 2 lateral papillae. Capsules ovoid, attenuate at both ends, (7-)9-13(-16) × 3-5 mm. Seeds reniform, ca. 2 mm diam., very obscurely reticulate, elaiosome present. 2 n = 32.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Fumaria cucullaria Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 699. 1753; Bicuculla cucullaria (Linnaeus) Millspaugh; B. occidentalis Rydberg; Dicentra cucullaria (Linnaeus) Bernhardi var. occidentalis (Rydberg) M. Peck
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Type Information

Isotype for Bicuculla occidentalis Rydb.
Catalog Number: US 3406
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): W. N. Suksdorf
Year Collected: 1892
Locality: W Klickitat County., Klickitat, Washington, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Rydberg, P. A. 1902. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 29: 160.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Dutchman's Breeches is a common plant that occurs in nearly every county of Illinois. Habitats include deciduous mesic woodlands, especially along gentle slopes, ravines, or ledges along streams. This species occurs in original woodland that has never been plowed under or bulldozed over. It's abundance in such woodlands can be highly variable – from uncommon to common.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Deciduous woods and clearings, in rich loam soils; 0-1500m.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Dutchman's Breeches in Illinois

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's Breeches)
(Bees usually suck nectar and less often collect pollen; other insects suck nectar; butterflies & skippers are non-pollinating; some observations are from Krombein et al., Schemske et al., and Macior as indicated below, otherwise observations are from Robertson; the bumblebee, Bombus affinis, sometimes perforated the floral spurs to steal nectar)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera cp fq np; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus affinis sn prf sn@prf fq (Mc), Bombus auricomus sn fq, Bombus bimaculatus sn cp fq (Rb, Mc), Bombus fervida sn (Mc), Bombus griseocallis sn fq (Rb, Shm), Bombus impatiens sn, Bombus pensylvanica sn fq, Bombus vagans sn; Anthophoridae (Anthophorini): Anthophora ursina sn, Habropoda laboriosus sn; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Synhalonia belfragii sn fq, Synhalonia dubitata sn; Megachilidae (Osmiini): Osmia bucephala bucephala sn fq, Osmia collinsiae sn, Osmia lignaria lignaria sn

Bees (short-tongued)
Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena carlini sn, Andrena erigeniae sn (Kr)

Flies
Bombyliidae: Bombylius major sn fq

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Vanessa atalanta sn np; Papilionidae: Papilio glaucus sn np, Papilio marcellus sn np; Pieridae: Pieris rapae sn np

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Erynnis martialis sn np

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Faunal Associations

The nectar of the flowers attracts long-tongued bees primarily, including bumblebees, Mason bees, Miner bees, and Anthophorid bees. Less common visitors include Bombylius major (Giant Bee Fly) and various butterflies and skippers. The butterflies and skippers are not effective pollinators of the flowers. Because the seeds have elaisomes (fleshy or oily appendages), they are distributed by ants. Ants carry the seeds to their nests, eat the elaisomes, and discard the seeds some distance from the mother plant. The foliage is toxic to mammalian herbivores and is not often eaten by them.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering early-late spring.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Dicentra cucullaria

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Threats

Comments: Somewhat threatened by forest management practices; lack of disturbance resulting in succession also adversely affects this species (Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project 2002).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is dappled sunlight of woodlands, mesic conditions, and a fertile loamy soil with abundant organic matter. This plant develops early and can resist moderate frost without damage.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Wikipedia

Dicentra cucullaria

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's breeches) is a perennial herbaceous plant, native to rich woods of eastern North America, with a disjunct population in the Columbia River Basin.[1]

The common name Dutchman's breeches derives from their white flowers that look like white breeches.

Description[edit]

Height is 15-40 cm. Root is a cluster of small pink to white teardrop-shaped bulblets. Leaves are 10-36 cm long and 4-18 cm broad, with a petiole up to 15 cm long; they are trifoliate, with finely divided leaflets.

Flowers are white, 1-2 cm long, and are born in spring on flower stalks 12-25 cm long.

Dutchman's breeches is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants, a process called myrmecochory. The seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants take the seeds to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes, and put the seeds in their nest debris, where they are protected until they germinate. They also get the added bonus of growing in a medium made richer by the ant nest debris.

The western populations have sometimes been separated as Dicentra occidentalis on the basis of often somewhat coarser growth, but do not differ from many eastern plants in the Appalachians.

Gallery[edit]

Medical uses[edit]

Native Americans and early white practitioners considered this plant useful for syphilis, skin conditions and as a blood purifier. Dutchman's breeches contains several alkaloids that may have effects on the brain and heart.

However, D. cucullaria may be toxic and causes contact dermatitis in some people.

References[edit]

  • Bleeding hearts, Corydalis, and their relatives. Mark Tebbitt, Magnus Lidén, and Henrik Zetterlund. Timber Press. 2008.
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Notes

Comments

Dicentra cucullaria is occasionally confused with D . canadensis , with which it is sympatric. It is distinguished from that species by its basally pointed (versus rounded) outer petal spurs, by its flowers lacking a fragrance, by flowering 7-10 days earlier, and by its pink to white, teardrop-shaped (versus yellow, pea-shaped) bulblets. 

 After fruit set, the bulblets of both Dicentra cucullaria and D . canadensis remain dormant until fall, when stored starch is converted to sugar. At this time also, flower buds and leaf primordia are produced below ground; these then remain dormant until spring (P. G. Risser and G. Cottam 1968; B. J. Kieckhefer 1964; K. R. Stern 1961). Pollination of both species is effected by bumblebees ( Bombus spp.) and other long-tongued insects (L. W. Macior 1970, 1978; K. R. Stern 1961).

Flavonoid components indicate that Dicentra canadensis and D . cucullaria are more closely related to each other than to any other member of the genus (D. Fahselt 1971). Even so, species purported to be hybrids between them probably are not. There is considerable variation in floral morphology within D . cucullaria , which can have flowers superficially resembling those of D . canadensis . However, when all characters of the plants are examined, these putative hybrids almost always are clearly assignable to one species or the other.

The western populations of Dicentra cucullaria appear to have been separated from the eastern ones for at least a thousand years. The western plants are generally somewhat coarser, which apparently led Rydberg to designate the western populations as a separate species. Plants from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, however, are virtually indistinguishable from those of the West, and much of the variation (which is considerable) within the species probably involves phenotypic response to the environment, or represents ecotypes within the species.

The Iroquois prepared infusions from the roots of Dicentra cucullaria for a medicinal liniment (D. E. Moerman 1986).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!