Dutchman's Breeches Dicentra cucullaria (Linnaeus) Bernhardi    Synonyms: Bicuculla cucullaria.
Kingdom Plantae   >   Division Tracheophyta   >   Class Magnoliopsida   >   Order Papaverales   >   Family Papaveraceae   >   Genus Dicentra   

Status:

Dutchman’s Breeches is a perennial plant that occurs in much of eastern North America and parts of the Midwest. Interestingly, there is a disjunct population in the Pacific Northwest (J. Hill/MNPS).

Description:

Dutchman’s Breeches grows from short, bulblet-bearing rhizomes. It is closely related, and similar in appearance, to Squirrel Corn. The flowers of both species have two pairs of petals. The outer pair form nectar spurs, which are long and spreading in Dutchman’s Breeches, giving the flower a pantaloon-like look (and are more rounded and heart-shaped in Squirrel Corn). In both species, the two inner petals, which are much smaller than the outer ones, form the base of the flower. The leaves can be difficult to tell apart unless seen side by side: Both are compound, with finely divided leaflets, somewhat resembling a fern. Squirrel Corn leaves often have a more bluish tinge than Dutchman’s leaves.

Where to find:

Dutchman’s Breeches is a spring ephemeral of rich floodplain and cove forests in our region.

Relationships:

The flowers of Dutchman’s Breeches (and Squirrel Corn) are pollinated mainly by early bees that have tongues long enough to reach into the spurs for nectar.

The seeds of both species are distributed by ants, which are attracted to fleshy or oily seed appendages called elaiosomes. Ants carry the seeds to their nests and eat the elaiosomes, leaving the seeds intact.

The foliage of both plants is toxic to herbivorous mammals, such as deer, and is infrequently eaten by them (J. Hill/MNPS). This may partly explain why Dutchman’s Breeches and Squirrel Corn can remain abundant in places where some other herbs have become uncommon due to deer browse.

There are 476 records in the project database.

View at Maryland Plant Atlas

Search Flora of North America

Search Mid-Atlantic Herbaria Consortium

Search Norton-Brown Herbarium

View taxon at iNaturalist

Search Google Images


[View seasonality details]
GA AL WA FR CL MO HO BA BC HA CE PG AA CV CH SMKE QACNTADOWISOWO
Dutchman's Breeches in Carroll Co., Maryland (4/6/2020). (c) Matthew Beziat, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Matthew Beziat. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches blooming in Harford Co., Maryland (4/9/2017). Photo by Emily Carter Mitchell. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches blooming in Harford Co., Maryland (4/16/2016). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches along the C&O Canal in Washington Co., Maryland (4/3/2010). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Harford Co., Maryland (4/19/2014). Photo by Mike Burchett. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches blooming in Howard Co., Maryland (4/21/2015). Photo by Bonnie Ott. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches, flower and fruits, in Washington Co., Maryland (4/10/2016). Photo by Bill Hill. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (4/17/2016). Photo by Bill Harms. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches blooming in Howard Co., Maryland (4/13/2013). Photo by Joanne Solem. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Allegany Co., Maryland (4/8/2017). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Allegany Co., Maryland (4/30/2015). Photo by Kimberly Booth. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches blooming in Montgomery Co., Maryland (4/12/2014). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (5/2/2015). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Baltimore Co., Maryland (4/7/2021). (c) laurabankey, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by laurabankey via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Montgomery Co., Maryland (3/27/2022). (c) Paweł Pieluszyński, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Paweł Pieluszyński via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Howard Co., Maryland (10/23/2019). Collected and processed by Helen Lowe Metzman. Photo by USGS PWRC. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches fruiting in Harford Co., Maryland (4/24/2018). Photo by Josh Emm. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Howard Co., Maryland (10/23/2019). Collected and processed by Helen Lowe Metzman. Photo by USGS PWRC. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches (left) and Squirrel Corn (right) in Harford Co., Maryland (4/16/2018). Photo by Josh Emm. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Prince George's Co., Maryland (4/4/2017). Photo by Bill Harms. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Calvert Co., Maryland (4//1986). Photo by Jim Stasz. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Harford Co., Maryland (3/11/2020). (c) apistopanchax, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Josh Emm. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Frederick Co., Maryland (4/3/2020). (c) tylerdoggett, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by tylerdoggett via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Washington Co., Maryland (4/8/2020). (c) kbarylski, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by kbarylski via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Baltimore Co., Maryland (4/12/2020). (c) pgkaestner, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Peter Kaestner via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Allegany Co., Maryland (3/29/2020). (c) Stephen John Davies, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Stephen John Davies via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Allegany Co., Maryland (3/29/2020). (c) Stephen John Davies, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Stephen John Davies via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

Dutchman's Breeches in Baltimore Co., Maryland (4/5/2020). (c) Dwight Johnson, all rights reserved. Photo by Dwight Johnson. (MBP list)


View All Images

Use of images featured on Maryland Biodiversity Project is only permitted with express permission of the photographer.

View Bibliography