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Dicentra cucullaria (type species)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Papaveraceae
Subfamily: Fumarioideae
Tribe: Fumarieae
Subtribe: Corydalinae
Genus: Dicentra

8 (see below)


Diclytra Borkh. nom. rej.[1]
Dielytra = orthographic variant of Diclytra[1]
Possible synonyms:[2] Lamprocapnos Endl.
Ehrendorferia Fukuhara & Lidén
Ichtyoselmis Lidén & Fukuhara

Dicentra (bleeding-heart; Greek dís "twice", kéntron "spur")[3] is a genus of eight species of herbaceous plants with oddly shaped flowers and finely divided leaves, native to eastern Asia and North America.


Flowers have two tiny sepals and four petals. The flowers are bisymmetric: the two outer petals are spurred or pouched at the base and curved outwards or backwards at the tip, and the two inner ones with or without a crest at the tip. In Dicentra, all leaves are in a basal rosette, and flowers are on leafless stalks. In other genera with bisymmetric heart-shaped flowers (Lamprocapnos, Dactylicapnos, Ichtyoselmis, Ehrendorferia), leaves grow on stems as well as from the root.[4] Each of the two compound stamens is composed of one median and two lateral half stamens fused together. The stamens and pistil are held between the inner petals.

Seeds with elaiosomes are borne in long capsules.

All parts are poisonous if ingested.


Current species[edit]

The genus Dicentra includes plants whose flowers and leaves grow on stems directly from the roots. Species with branching stems used to be included in the genus, but have now been moved to other genera.[4]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
Dicentra canadensis - Canadian Heart Flower.jpg Dicentra canadensis (Goldie) Walp. Squirrel-corn eastern North America.
Dicentra cucullaria.png Dicentra cucullaria (L.) Bernh. Dutchman's-breeches eastern North America, with a disjunct population in the Columbia Basin
Fringed bleeding-heart flower cluster.jpg Dicentra eximia (Ker-Gawl.) Torr. Fringed bleeding-heart, turkey-corn Appalachian Mountains
Dicentra formosa by Danny S. - 001.JPG Dicentra formosa (Haw.) Walp. western or Pacific bleeding-heart Pacific Coast of North America
Dicentra nevadensis Eastw. Sierra bleeding-heart Sierra Nevada peaks of Tulare and Fresno Counties, endemic to central eastern California
Dicentrapauciflora.jpg Dicentra pauciflora S. Wats.
short-horn steer's-head Oregon and California
Dicentra peregrina Komakusa.jpg Dicentra peregrina (Rudolphi) Makino komakusa Japan, the Kuril Islands, Sakhalin Island, and northeastern Siberia
Dicentra uniflora.jpg Dicentra uniflora Kellogg long-horn steer's-head western United States

These species names are synonyms of the names above:

  • Dicentra lachenaliaeflora Ledeb. = Dicentra peregrina
  • Dicentra oregana Eastw. = Dicentra formosa subsp. oregana
  • Dicentra pusilla Siebold & Zucc. = Dicentra peregrina

Hybrids and cultivars[edit]

Two bleeding-heart hybrids: Dicentra 'King of Hearts' (deep pink) and Dicentra 'Ivory Hearts' (white)

There are several hybrids and cultivars involving Dicentra eximia, Dicentra formosa, and Dicentra peregrina, including (those marked agm have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit):-[5]

  • Dicentra 'Aurora' — Dicentra formosa × Dicentra eximia — white flowers
  • D. formosa 'Bacchanal' (agm)[6] — deep red
  • Dicentra 'Ivory Hearts' — Dicentra peregrina × Dicentra eximia 'Alba' — white
  • Dicentra 'King of Hearts' — Dicentra peregrina × (Dicentra formosa subsp. oregana × Dicentra eximia)
  • D. formosa 'Langtrees' (agm)[7]
  • Dicentra 'Luxuriant' (agm)[8]Dicentra formosa × Dicentra eximia × Dicentra peregrina
  • Dicentra 'Queen of Hearts' (agm)[9]
  • Dicentra 'Stuart Boothman' (agm)[10]

Hybrids involving Dicentra peregrina are often intolerant of hot-humid climates and sun like the species itself.

Former species[edit]

The genera Dactylicapnos, Ichtyoselmis, Ehrendorferia and Lamprocapnos were previously included as subgenera in Dicentra, but have been shown not to belong in this genus (see for example Flora of China web page)

  • Dactylicapnos Wall. (14 species of herbaceous climbers with yellow flowers, Himalaya to SW China)
    • Dactylicapnos burmanica (K.R.Stern) Lidén
    • Dactylicapnos grandifoliolata Merrill (Dicentra paucinervia K.R.Stern)
    • Dactylicapnos lichiangensis (Fedde) Hand.-Mazz.
    • Dactylicapnos macrocapnos (Prain) Hutchinson
    • Dactylicapnos roylei (Hook.f. & Th.) Hutchinson
    • Dactylicapnos scandens (D.Don) Hutchinson
    • Dactylicapnos schneideri (Fedde) Lidén
    • Dactylicapnos gaoligongshanensis Lidén
    • Dactylicapnos torulosa (Hook.f. & Th.) Hutchinson (Dicentra wolfdietheri Fedde)
    • Dactylicapnos cordata Lidén
  • Ehrendorferia Lidén (2 species of erect robust herbaceous perennials with yellow or cream erect flowers, Western N America)
  • Ichtyoselmis Lidén (1 species of large herbaceous perennial with serrate leaflets and large drooping cream flowers, China, Burma)
    • Ichtyoselmis macrantha (Oliver) Lidén
  • Lamprocapnos Endlicher (1 species of herbaceous perennial with large pink flowers in horizontal racemes, NE China, Korea)
    • Lamprocapnos spectabilis (L.) Fukuhara bleeding heart = Dicentra spectabilis Lem.


  1. ^ a b International Plant Names Index
  2. ^ GRIN taxonomy
  3. ^ δίς, κέντρον. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  4. ^ a b Tebbitt, Mark; Lidén, Magnus; Zetterlund, Henrik (2008). Bleeding hearts, Corydalis, and their relatives. Timber Press. pp. 56–58.
  5. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 32. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  6. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Dicentra formosa 'Bacchanal'". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  7. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Dicentra formosa 'Langtrees'". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  8. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Dicentra 'Luxuriant'". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  9. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Dicentra 'Queen of Hearts'". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  10. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Dicentra 'Stuart Boothman'". Retrieved 12 February 2018.

External links[edit]