Dicentra formosa

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Dicentra formosa
Dicentra formosa 6897.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Papaveraceae
Genus: Dicentra
Species: D. formosa
Binomial name
Dicentra formosa
(Haw.) Walp.

Dicentra formosa (western, wild or Pacific bleeding heart) is a species of flowering plant in the Poppy Family (Papaveraceae).[1] It is native to moist woodland in the western United States, from California to British Columbia. It is an herbaceous rhizomatous perennial growing to 45 cm (18 in) tall by 60 cm (24 in) wide, with deeply divided grey-green leaves and racemes of nodding, deep pink flowers.[2]


Leaves are finely divided and fernlike, growing from the base of the plant. Flowers are pink, red, or white and heart-shaped and bloom in clusters at the top of leafless, fleshy stems above the leaves from mid-spring to autumn, with peak flowering in spring. The four petals are attached at the base. The two outer petals form a pouch at the base and curve outwards at the tips. The two inner petals are perpendicular to the outer petals and connected at the tip. There are two tiny, pointed sepals behind the petals. Seeds are borne in plump, pointed pods. The plant self-seeds readily. It frequently goes dormant for the summer after flowering, emerging and flowering again in autumn.

Similar species[edit]

This species is frequently confused with and sold as Dicentra eximia, which has narrower flowers and longer, more curved outer petal tips. D. formosa is related to Lamprocapnos spectabilis, another popular plant called "bleeding heart", which was formerly placed in the same genus.


There are two subspecies:

  • Dicentra formosa subsp. formosa — leaves glaucous beneath and never glaucous above, flowers purple pink to pink or white
    western slope of Sierra Nevada, Coast Ranges to central California, Cascades, extreme southwestern British Columbia
  • Dicentra formosa subsp. oregona (often spelled oregana) — leaves glaucous above and beneath, flowers cream or pale yellow
    small area of northwestern California and southwestern Oregon


Dicentra formosa 'Bacchanal'

Dicentra formosa is widely grown as a garden plant, and several cultivars have been developed. Those marked agm have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:-

  • white and green flowers
    • 'Langtrees' (= 'Pearl Drops') — bluish-green leaves
    • 'Margaret Fish' — bluish-gray-green
    • 'Quicksilver' — bluish-gray-green — resentful of hot, humid climates and sun
    • 'Snowflakes' (= 'Fusd') — green
    • 'Sweetheart' — green
  • pink and red flowers
    • 'Bacchanal' agm[3] — deep red flowers
    • 'Coldham' — deep burgundy
    • 'Luxuriant' agm[4] — red flowers
    • 'Zestful' — deep rose-pink
Dicentra 'Aurora'

There are several hybrid cultivars involving D. formosa, D. eximia and D. peregrina:-

  • 'Adrian Bloom' (from a seedling of D. 'Bountiful') — dark pink flowers, bluish-green leaves
  • 'Aurora' (D. formosa × D. eximia) — pure white, gray-green — particularly tolerant of hot-humid climates
  • 'Bountiful' (D. formosa subsp. oregana × D. eximia) — rosy red, bluish-green
  • 'Gothenburg' (D. formosa subsp. oregana × D. peregrina f. alba) — light pink, compact
  • 'King of Hearts' — D. peregrina × (D. formosa subsp. oregana × D. eximia) — pink, bluish-gray-green
  • 'Silversmith' (D. formosa subsp. oregana × D. eximia) — white pink-tinted, green
  • 'Stuart Boothman' agm[5] (D. formosa subsp. oregana × D. eximia) — deep pink, gray-green



  1. ^ Sierra Nevada Wildflowers, Karen Wiese, 2nd Ed., 2013, p. 83
  2. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  3. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Dicentra formosa 'Bacchanal' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  4. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Dicentra 'Luxuriant' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  5. ^ "RHS Plant Selector Dicentra 'Stuart Boothman' AGM / RHS Gardening". Apps.rhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  • Bleeding hearts, Corydalis, and their relatives. Mark Tebbitt, Magnus Lidén, and Henrik Zetterlund. Timber Press. 2008. — Google Books

External links[edit]