Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This herbaceous 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 to green and glabrous. 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 long petioles of the compound leaves are slender and glabrous; they are pale red, tan, or brown. From the center of the rosette, there develops a semi-erect raceme of 2-6 pairs of white flowers on a long peduncle (flowering stalk). This raceme tends to bend to one side, while the flowers droop upside-down from their pedicels. Both the peduncle and pedicels are pale red or yellowish brown, terete, glabrous, and sometimes glaucous. The pedicels are about ¼" in length; in the middle of each pedicel, there is a pair of tiny linear bracts. Each flower is about ¾" long and assumes the form of an 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 2 sepals of each flower are white and more or less ovate in shape; they are much shorter than the petals. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-spring and lasts about 2-3 weeks. There is no noticeable floral scent. The flowers are replaced by oblongoid-ovoid seed capsules that taper into points at both ends. These capsules eventually split apart into 2 segments to release their seeds. The root system consists of a bulbous base with fleshy scales and secondary roots. Cultivation
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Dutchman's Breeches is a common plant that occurs in nearly every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map), where it is native. 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. Faunal Associations
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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

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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Dutchman's Breeches is a common plant that occurs in nearly every county of Illinois (see Distribution Map), where it is native. 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. Faunal Associations
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Deciduous woods and clearings, in rich loam soils; 0-1500m.
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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

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering early-late spring.
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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
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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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).

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Wikipedia

Dicentra cucullaria

For a plant with a similar name, see Dutchman's Pipe.

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.
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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).

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