Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's Breeches)

Scientific Name

Dicentra cucullaria (L.) Bernh.

Common Names

Dutchman's Breeches


Dicentra cucullaria var. cucullaria, Dicentra cucullaria f. cucullaria, Bicuculla cucullaria, Bicuculla occidentalis, Bicucullata canadensis, Bikukulla cucullaria, Capnorchis americana, Capnorchis cucullaria, Capnorchis occidentalis, Corydalis bracteosa, Dicentra occidentalis, Diclytra bracteosa, Diclytra canadensis, Diclytra cucullaria, Dielytra bracteosa, Dielytra cucullaria, Fumaria bicalcarata, Fumaria cucullaria, Fumaria pallida

Scientific Classification

Family: Papaveraceae
Subfamily: Fumarioideae
Tribe: Fumarieae
Subtribe: Corydalinae
Genus: Dicentra


Color: White
Bloom Time: Early spring


Dicentra cucullaria is an easily recognized, graceful, early spring wildflower with the flower stems and basal leaves rising directly from a scaly rootstock. The plant typically grows up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall. It features deeply-cut, fern-like, grayish-green foliage and racemes of waxy, white (infrequently tinged with pink), yellow-tipped flowers shaped like pantaloons with the ankles upward (hence the common name). Flowers are borne in a row drooping from leafless stems arching above the foliage in early spring.

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman's Breeches)
Photo via wikipedia.org


USDA hardiness zone 3a to 8b: from −40 °F (−40 °C) to 20 °F (−6.7 °C).

How to Grow and Care

In a moist and cool climate, Bleeding Heart will grow in full sun, but in warmer and drier climates, it requires some shade. Keep plants well-watered throughout the summer, especially in warmer weather. Even then, they may be ephemeral and disappear until the fall or next spring. If you've recently planted your Bleeding Heart, it would be wise to mark the spot so you don't accidentally dig in the area while your plant is dormant. It prefers rich, moist soil but is not particular about soil pH. Bleeding Heart is not a heavy feeder, so when to fertilize depends on the quality of your soil. If you have rich, organic soil that is amended every year, you won't have to feed at all.

They can be started from seed, division, cutting, or seedling. It is very easy to divide Bleeding Heart plants. It should be divided after flowering, so you don't sacrifice bloom. The fringed-leaf varieties divide nicely early in spring, as they are emerging. It can also be started by seed or stem cuttings. See more at How to Grow and Care for Bleeding Heart.


Native to rich woods of eastern North America, with a disjunct population in the Columbia Basin.


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