Dicentra canadensis (Squirrel Corn)
|Also known as:
|part shade, shade; rich hardwood forest, rock outcrops
|April - May
|6 to 12 inches
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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A raceme of 4 to 8 hanging, greenish-white heart-shaped flowers, about ¾ inch long and ½ inch wide, on slender stalks at the end of a naked stem rising above the leaves. At the base are a pair of small yellowish lobes that open up like wings, revealing the short stamens and a 2-horned stigma. A pair of long, vertical ruffles are at right angles to the wings. The stem may be erect but is typically leaning or arching.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are basal, 1 or 2 per flowering stem, triangular in outline, 5 to 9 inches long and 2½ to 5 inches wide, thrice divided into lacy, narrowly oblong to linear segments. Surfaces are smooth, the underside with a powdery, waxy bloom. Stems are smooth and green to brown.
An inhabitant of the eastern hardwood forest, Dicentra canadensis seems to prefer rich soils with rocky outcrops. The deep ravines and river valleys of Minnesota's southeast counties represent the extreme northwest extent of Squirrel Corn's North American range. It is by no means common in that area. According to the DNR, it is now most at risk from invasive species, earthworms in particular, and was listed as a Special Concern species in 1984. Gardeners will instantly recognize its family relationship to the larger pink bleeding-heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis, formerly Dicentra spectabilis) which is native to Asia. It is also very similar to the native Dicentra cucullaria or Dutchman's breeches, with which it often grows side-by-side. The foliage is nearly identical but Dutchman's Breeches blooms earlier and its flower is less heart-shaped, but like inflated pantaloons of Dutch tradition.
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Frontenac State Park, Goodhue County.
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