DUTCHMAN'S BREECHES WHITE HEARTS SOLDIER'S CAP EARDROPS





(Bicuculla Cucullaria; Dicentra cucullaria of Gray) Poppy

family



Flowers - White, tipped with yellow, nodding in a 1-sided raceme.

Two scale-like sepals; corolla of 4 petals, in 2 pairs, somewhat

cohering into a heart-shaped, flattened, irregular flower, the

outer pair of petals extended into 2 widely spread spurs, the

small inner petals united above; 6 stamens in 2 sets; style

slender, with a 2-lobed stigma. Scape: 5 to 10 in. high, smooth,

from a bulbous root. Leaves: Finely cut, thrice compound, pale

beneath, on slender petioles, all from base

Preferred Habitat - Rich, rocky woods.

Flowering Season- - April-May.

Distribution - Nova Scotia to the Carolinas, west to Nebraska.



Rich leaf mould, accumulated between crevices of rock, makes the

ideal home of this delicate, yet striking, flower, coarse-named,

but refined in all its parts. Consistent with the dainty,

heart-shaped blossoms that hang trembling along the slender stem

like pendants from a lady's ear, are the finely dissected,

lace-like leaves, the whole plant repudiating by its femininity

its most popular name. It was Thoreau who observed that only

those plants which require but little light, and can stand the

drip of trees, prefer to dwell in the woods - plants which have

commonly more beauty in their leaves than in their pale and

almost colorless blossoms. Certainly few woodland dwellers have

more delicately beautiful foliage than the fumitory tribe.



Owing to this flower's early season of bloom and to the depth of

its spurs, in which nectar is secreted by two long processes of

the middle stamens, only the long-tongued female bumblebees then

flying are implied by its curious formation. Two canals leading

to the sweets invite the visitor to thrust in her tongue, and as

she hangs from the white heart and presses forward to drain the

luscious drops, first on one side, then on the other, her hairy

underside necessarily comes in contact with the pollen of younger

flowers and - with the later maturing stigmas of older ones, to

which she carries it later. But, as might be expected, this

intelligent bee occasionally nips holes through the spurs of the

flower that makes dining so difficult for her - holes that lesser

fry are not slow to investigate.



According to the Rev. Alexander S. Wilson, bumblebees make holes

with jagged edges; wasps make clean-cut, circular openings; and

the carpenter bees cut slits, through which they steal nectar

from deep flowers. Who has tested this statement about the guilty

little pilferers on our side of the Atlantic?





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