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Bleeding Heart
Dicentra eximia

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Bleeding Heart plantOur native wild Bleeding Heart is so beautiful I hope you forgive me for overloading this page with pictures.Bleeding Heart Closeup It should not be confused with the Asian species, Dicentra spectabilis, which is often cultivated and sold in nurseries here. (see picture below for comparison). This plant has finely cut leaves and when emerging in spring, is almost indistiguishable from its close cousin Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria). As they grow, however you can see a difference. Bleeding Heart grows to a height of about 6-8 inches.In mid-spring it sends up a stalk (panicle) of flowers that will reach just above the foliage level. It is happiest in rich wooded slopes with dappled sunlight or mostly shade. My RAB reference (see below) claims it is rare; I have some in my native wildflower garden on a damp, east-facing hardwood slope and it is doing very well and spreading. (I purchased my original plant from a legitimate plant rescue.) So apparently it will transplant well - if you can find a legitimate source. (Try my Sources page.) Feel lucky if you find it in the woods - but don't dig!

Bleeding Heart FlowerAsian Bleeding Heart
         Native Bleeding Heart                         Asian Bleeding Heart (thanks to Univ. of Wisconsin website)

A note on the nomenclature (naming conventions) on this site: Scientific names and classifications are constantly being argued and changed, and it drives me nuts. Although I use many different sources for knowledge, for naming consistency  I  use the  "Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas" by Radford, Ahles and Bell, 1968 edition. This book is a well-established authority for the plants of our region and I've been using it for years. If for some reason I must use a different source for a particular plant, I will make note of it within the descriptive text. Don't like it? Tough!

Fiona Dudley
986 Reems Creek Road
Weaverville NC 28787


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