South Dakota Native Plant Research
Fumariaceae : Dicentra cucullaria

Fumariaceae : Dicentra cucullaria


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Family Name


Common Name

Dutchman's breeches


Dicentra cucullaria is perennial herb, which grows 6 cm to 30 cm in height, with the flower stems and basal leaves rising directly from a scaly rootstock. The erect to ascending basal leaves have long petioles (5-15 cm}, the compound pinnatifid blades are ovate to triangular, 10-26 cm long, divided 2-3 times into lacy segments 1-3 mm wide, with entire margins. The flowering stems (scapes) are 10-30 cm tall, terminating in a raceme of 3-15 flowers, subtended by whitish bracts. The flowers are shaped like pantaloons. The 2 membranaceous sepals are white, sometimes streaked with purple, 2-3.5 mm long and 1.5-2.5 mm wide. The 4 white petals are yellow tipped, the outer 2 petals are spurred 10-15 mm long, the inner pair, oblanceolate, 7-12 mm long and convergent coherent at the top. The fruit is a capsule, 10-15 mm long, 3-6 mm in diameter. Dutchman’s breeches bloom from March into May in moist woods in eastern South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Dutchman's Breeches is an attractive spring ephemeral species that blooms in a shaded woodland before the tree canopy leafs-out. They provide food for emerging bumblebees and color in the very early spring. This species is difficult to germinate and grow to maturity and needs a moist, well-drained site with rich humus soils.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect seeds when the capsules turn brown and papery. Store refrigerated.

Germination: The seeds need warm and cold treatments to germinate. Plant them immediately after collecting for germination the following spring. Seeds planted in the spring will germinate the following year.

Soils: Well drained rich organic soils are required.

Light: Partial shade to full shade. Deep shade will produce fewer flowers.

Water: Need a year-round moist site.

Fumariaceae : Dicentra cucullaria