Plants of New Jersey # 21 Dutchman Breeches

Dutchman Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)

Welcome! Today we are going to discuss Dutchman Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria). Dutchman Breeches is a member of the Poppy family of plants. The plant grows in neutral to slightly acid soil usually in rocky conditions. The flower is a true spring ephemeral and flowers between April and May every year. Bumblebees are the primary pollinators of this interesting plant.

Dutchman Breeches in bloom

The white flowers with a yellow tip do indeed look like old fashioned breeches hung to dry. The flowers are on a leafless stalk which can grow to heights of 5-9 inches. These stalks can have anywhere from 4-8 flowers each. The leaves are feathery in appearance and are generally grayish/green and pale underneath.

Dutchman Breeches Seedpods

After the flowers die long seedpods appear. The seedpods mature in late spring and open lengthwise due to the pressure from the growing seeds. Ants disperse the seeds. The leaves yellow and whither once the seeds have matured.

Typical Dutchman Breeches Habitat

The plant can cause skin allergies and can even be fatal if you were to ingest it. Cattle have been known to have been poisoned from eating this plant. Be warned!

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