DUTCHMAN'S BREECHES
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Dicentra cucullaria   (L. ) Benth.
Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Perennial
Height: 5-10 inches
Family: Fumariaceae - Fumitory Family
Flowering Period:   April, May
Stems: Stemless. Leaves and flowering stalk arise from flattened, scaly bulbs about 2 inches beneath the surface.
Leaves: Basal, usually 2 per flowering stalk, erect to ascending, 4 to 12 inches long, glabrous; blades broadly triangular in outline, 3- or 4-pinnately-divided and again incised, 1.6 to 6 inches long, nearly as wide, ultimate segments narrowly elliptic or oblong to oblanceolate; margins entire; tips pointed or rounded; stalk 3-6 inches long, typically longer than blade.
Inflorescences: Raceme, 3- to 15-flowered, terminal on slender flowering stalk 4 to 10 inches long, arching, surpassing leaves.
Flowers: Flattened, heart-shaped, 1/2 inch long, 3/4 inch wide; on stalks 1/8 to 2/5 inch long, initially ascending, later hanging down; sepals 2, small, triangular, whitish, sometimes streaked with purple; petals 4, white or pinkish, yellow or cream at summit, in 2 series; outer petals spurred, 2/4 to 3/5 inch long; spurs widely divergent, pouch-like, each enclosing 3 stamens; inner petals 1/3 to 1/2 inch long, united at tips.
Fruits: Capsule, spindle-shaped, 2/5 to 3/5 inch long, waxy; seeds several, egg-shaped, shiny black, rough.
Habitat: Open, usually moist woods; rich soils.
Distribution: East 1/3 of Kansas.
Toxicity: Contains poisonous alkaloids. Toxic to cattle and sheep but rarely abundant enough to cause problems.
Uses: Native Americans used Dutchman's breeches as a love charm by throwing the plant at their intended or by chewing the root and breathing on the young lady that they were interested in. A compound infusion of the leaves was used as a liniment to strengthen the legs of runners.
Comments: From Greek di "twofold" or "double" and kentron "spur" for the outer spurred petals. Latin cucullus "hood" or "cowl" for the inner petals united over the style and stamens. "Bleeding heart" Dicentra spectabilis of flower gardens is a Japanese relative.

Dutchman's breeches flowers
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Dutchman's breeches
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Dutchman's breeches
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Dutchman's breeches leaves
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Dutchman's breeches inflorescence
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Dutchman's breeches
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Dutchman's breeches
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Dutchman's breeches leaf
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Dutchman's breeches fruit
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Dutchman's breeches leaf
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