Duchman’s Breeches

Botanical Name:Dicentra cucullaria
Family : Fumariaceae
Other Name: Dicentra cucullaria
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales
Genus: Dicentra
Species: D. cucullaria

Syninyms:Bicuculla cucullaria[B,P] Corydalis cuccularia[H] D. cuccularia[H] D. cucullaria var. occidentalis[B,P] D. occidentalis[B,P] Fumaria cucullaria[G]

Common Names: Dicentra cucullaria , Dutchman’s breeches (derives from their white flowers that look like white breeches.)
Habitat :Woodland, Dappled Shade, Shady Edge, Deep Shade. Native to North America.It occurs mainly in the eastern half of the continent, from Nova Scotia and southern Quebec west to eastern North Dakota, and south to northern Georgia and eastern Oklahoma; there is also a disjunct population in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. It typically grows in rich woods. The common name Dutchman’s breeches derives from their white flowers that look like white breeches.

Description: It is a perennial herbaceous plant, reaching a height of 15-40 cm. The leaves are 10-36 cm long and 4-18 cm broad, with a petiole up to 15 cm long; they are trifoliate, with finely divided leaflets. The flowers appear during spring; they are white, 1-2 cm long, and are born on flower stalks 12-25 cm long. Both the leaf stalks and the flower stalks rise from an underground, scaly bulb.

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Dutchman’s breeches is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants, a process called myrmecochory. The seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants take the seeds to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes, and put the seeds in their nest debris, where they are protected until they germinate. They also get the added bonus of growing in a medium made richer by the ant nest debris.

This delicate spring flower is well know to those who visit the southern mountains in the early spring. It is sometimes found in abundance on a northern slope or shaded blank that has remained undisturbed for a very long time. It is very rare in the south except for the mountains and in bloom for a very short time.
Lore: Among some northern tribes it may have been used as a love charm or for seduction. Imagine a young man chewing the root and circling the intended female breathing out the fragrance in the belief that once she smells it she will follow him even against her will.(Erichsen-Brown)Flowering time: April to May

Medical Uses: Alterative; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Poultice; Tonic; VD.

Alterative, tonic.

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The dried tubers were used as a tonic and were recommended in the treatment of VD.

A tea made from the roots is diaphoretic and diuretic.

A poultice made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of skin ailments and as a muscle rub to make them more limber.

The plant contains an alkaloid that depresses the central nervous system – it is used in the treatment of paralysis and tremors.

Native Americans and early white practitioners considered this plant useful for several conditions including syphilis, skin conditions and as a blood purifier. There are several alkaloids that may have effects on the brain and heart. Warning: May be toxic and may cause contact dermatitis in some people.

Native Americans and early white practitioners considered this plant useful for syphilis, skin conditions and as a blood purifier. Dutchman’s breeches contains several alkaloids that may have effects on the brain and heart.

However, D. cucullaria may be toxic and may cause contact dermatitis in some people.The plant is potentially poisonous and can also cause skin rashes.

Similar Species: Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis) has more rounded flowers. Turkey Corn or Wild Bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia) has pink rounded flowers.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dicentra_cucullaria
http://2bnthewild.com/plants/H289.htm
http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Dicentra+cucullaria

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