Plant Taxonomy of Dutchman's Breeches:
Plant Type for Dicentra Cucullaria:
Characteristics of Dicentra Cucullaria:
The foliage consists of a rosette of deeply-toothed, grayish-green basal leaves; the visual effect may be described as loose, airy or fern-like. Out of this rosette, leafless stems emerge that will bear the white flowers. On my plants, these stalks typically bear 5 or 6 blooms apiece, all lined up in a row. At the bottoms of the flowers are yellow tips. Plants typically reach a height of 6-12 inches, with a similar spread.
Planting Zones for Dutchman's Breeches:
Sun and Soil Requirements for Dutchman's Breeches:
Uses for Dicentra Cucullaria:
Wildlife Attracted by Dicentra Cucullaria:
Some report that these flowers are plants that attract butterflies and bees, although I have not witnessed this, myself. What I have been able to confirm is that the plant attracts ants -- just the opposite of the plants used in organic ant control.
Outstanding Features of Dicentra Cucullaria:
Origin of the Names:
The common name, "Dutchman's breeches" tells you all you need to know to wish to grow these flowers in your own shade garden if you have any appreciation, at all, for whimsy. The name derives from the fact that the flowers are shaped like little pantaloons. To be more specific, it's easy to imagine that the arching leafless stems are clotheslines; and from these clotheslines, pantaloons are hung out to dry, upside-down. One can -- to push the comparison a bit further -- imagine the small yellow flanges at the bottom of each flower to be a decoration or belt around the waist of the pantaloons. Part of this yellow area protrudes from the center and corresponds to the "drop of blood" that dangles from the bottom of a bleeding heart flower; I think of it as the belt buckle.
The origin of the botanical name is somewhat at odds with that of the common name. The genus name, Dicentra is botanical Latin (derived from the Greek) and means "having two spurs," the two spurs being the two pant-legs that compose each of the pantaloons. So far, so good, as the "pantaloons" theme continues. However, the specific epithet, cucullaria breaks with the theme: in Latin, the word means "hooded." Whoever decided on the species name apparently thought the flowers resembled headwear more than pants.
I discuss similar naming discrepancies in the following two articles:
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