Pacific Bleeding Heart

Dicentra formosa

APPEARANCE

The bleeding heart has long, soft and feathery leaves that grow in green stems at least 20 centimetres tall. The flowers look like pink and purple hearts, and grow in clusters at the end of a stem.

RANGE & HABITAT

Bleeding heart grows from southern B.C., on the coast and near the Rocky Mountains, all the way down to California. It lives in moist forests and woodlands, especially near stream banks.

LIFE CYCLE

Flowers appear in spring to early summer, and they turn into seedpods full of black seeds. Ants like the oil in the seeds, and they carry them from the plant throughout the forest. Bleeding heart also spreads from its thick stems.

ANIMAL USES

The seeds have rich oily parts that ants like to eat, so the ants spread the seeds throughout the forest.

TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES

Bleeding heart contains a poison that is dangerous to plants and animals, so not many people eat it. The roots can be used to make a drink that helps skin problems and other diseases.

MODERN USES

Some people have been known to make a drink from the roots to treat syphilis (a disease) and cramps.

STATUS

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

MORE INFORMATION

www.wildernesscollege.com

Photo: Squamatologist

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