Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis)


Dicentra canadensis
Photographed May 2.

Squirrel Corn is easily confused with Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), but the shape of the flowers is an infallible marker. These are shaped like the common Bleeding-Hearts of our gardens; they lack the pointed lobes that make Dutchman’s Breeches look like a pair of pantaloons hung out to dry. These were blooming in Fox Chapel near the Trillium Trail at the beginning of May.

Squirrel Corn

Gray describes the genus and the species:

DICÉNTRA Berah. Petals slightly cohering into a heart-shaped or 2-spurred corolla, either deciduous or withering-persistent. Stigma 2-crested and sometimes 2-horned. Filaments slightly united into two sets. Pod 10-20-seeded. Seeds crested. — Low stemless perennials (as to our wild species) with ternately compound and dissected leaves, and racemose nodding flowers. Pedicels 2-bracted. (Name from dis, twice, and kentron, a spur; — accidentally printed Diclytra in the first instance, which by an erroneous conjecture was changed afterwards into Dielytra.) Bikukulla Adams. Bicuculla Millsp.

Raceme simple, few-flowered.

D. canadensis (Goldie) Walp. (SQUIRREL CORN.) Subterranean shoots bearing scattered grain-tike tubers (resembling peas or grains of Indian corn, yellow); leaves as in no. 1 [Dutchman’s Breeches, D. cucullaria]; corolla merely heart-shaped, the spurs very short and rounded; crest of the inner petals conspicuous, projecting. (Bicuculla Millsp.) — Rich woods, N. S. to Ont. and Minn., s. to Va., Ky., and Mo. Apr., May. — Flowers greenish white tinged with rose, with the fragrance of hyacinths.


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