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Dicentra canadensis

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Plant types and subtypes: Perennials, Ephemerals, Bulbs

Light Requirements: part-shade, shade

Water Use: medium

Soil Moisture: moist

Soil Description: acid, neutral, rich, average, loam, sand

Height: 6"-12"

Bloom Time: April, May

Bloom Color: white, pink

Leaf Color: green, blue-green, gray-green

Hardiness Zone: 4, 5, 6, 7

Additional Tags: ephemeral, fragrant flowers, medicinal, ornamental foliage, poisonous, shade garden plant, woodland plant

Flower of Dicentra canadensis (squirrel corn)
  • Flower of Dicentra canadensis (squirrel corn)
  • Flower of Dicentra canadensis (squirrel corn)
  • Flower of Dicentra canadensis (squirrel corn)
  • Flower of Dicentra canadensis (squirrel corn)

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Description

Dicentra canadensis

Also known as:

squirrel corn

,

Scientific Synonyms:

Bicuculla canadensis

Description

Dicentra canadensis is a native, diminutive, dainty and fragrant relative of the common bleeding heart. Racemes of white to pinkish, heart-shaped flowers appear above the fern-like foliage, reaching no more than a foot off the ground. Leaves may be blueish or grayish. They are finely toothed and divided. Squirrel corn is ephemeral and goes dormant late spring after flowering.

Cultivation

This species of Dicentra can be found in deciduous open woods and will grow best in part-shade or dappled light. Squirrel corn prefers light, moist, acidic, humus-rich soil. It is ideal for shade gardens where it will provide early interest. Because it is ephemeral, it may be combined with later emerging perennials. Blooms mid spring: April-May. Zones 4-7

Propagation

It is easiest to propagate by transplanting the small tubers that grow on the rootstock when the plant goes dormant. It can also be propagated by seed as soon as they ripen. Collected seeds should be sown when the weather cools down in fall, or late winter/early spring after the last frost.

Additional Notes

Dicentra canadensis earned the common name squirrel corn because the small yellow tubers it produces somewhat resemble corn kernels, and are a favorite of squirrels and other small rodents. All parts of this species are poisonous, but toxic only if ingested in large quantities. The tubers have been used to produce diuretics and tonics, as well as to treat a variety of chronic skin affections.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
CT, GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV

USDA Endangered Status:

  • Endangered: NJ
  • Threatened: CT, ME, NH

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Magnoliidae
Order Papaverales
Family Fumariaceae Fumitory family
Genus Dicentra bleeding heart
Species Dicentra canadensis squirrel corn