Saturday, April 16, 2011

Little men of the spring woods

Dutchman's Breeches

I climbed the hillside and sat among pole after pole of tiny trousers, waving in the breeze of an April afternoon.

But for as long as I waited there on the leafy bank for her return, not one little laundress came to collect her things.

Where are these little half-dressed men of the spring forest?
And why do they never wash their jackets?

Dutchman's Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria

Dutchman's Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria, is member of the fumitory family, and is an early blooming wildflower native to the northeastern deciduous woods. Its finely divided fern-like leaflets make it easy to confuse with a look-alike, Squirrel Corn, Dicentra canadensis, whose heart-shaped flowers have less flared spurs. Flowers of both may be tinted yellow as they emerge and become shades of white and faint pink. Bleeding Heart, Dicentra spectabilis, a popular and showier garden bloomer, is related.

It is said that the fumitory family (Latin fumus=smoke) is so named for the smoky appearance that the bluish cast leaves may give as they emerge from the ground. Yellow corydalis, another member of this family, blooms at the same time and shows the characteristically lacy, bluish cast leaves. Pale Corydalis, with its 2-colored pink and yellow flower has a more northern distribution.

Yellow Corydalis, Corydalis flavula

Pale Corydalis, Corydalis sempervirens,
Voyageurs National Park, MN
(leaves above, flower below)

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Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks for these photos, Nina. Up where I live near the Adirondacks, the foliage has not even broken ground yet, since the snow melted just this week. But soon! And for just a brief time, for the Dutchman's Breeches. The Pale Corydalis, however, will bloom until well after frost next fall.

Kerri Farley said...

Wonderful Wildflowers!

Guy said...

Wow I am going to be crawling around looking for wildflowers this spring. I know we will not have the variety you have but these are so inspiring I have to see what is out there.

The Dutchman's Breeches are wonderful.

Thanks Guy

Kelly said... it! (I posted on these little flowers on Friday too. The Little Miami is covered with them this spring!)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Now you have me giggling at the thought of you waiting for the little people coming to collect their laundry. Cheers and Happy Spring.

Heather said...

Nina, I love this post. I hope you won't mind me saying that it's cute! I just found some "britches" yesterday. I love the feel of the leaves - almost leathery to the touch. I also found White Deadnettle while I was out walking yesterday. Of course I didn't have my camera with me. So much to see....

Teresa said...

What a lovely, amusing and informative post! Thoroughly enjoyed your writing and those great photos.

Q said...

Hi Nina,
These are charming. Wildflowers are my favorite flowers. I must get out into the woods as soon as it stops raining.

Sally said...

Great post! I hope you don't mind my including this and a couple of others in the current Berry-Go-Round.


JSK said...

What wonderful photos of Dutchman's Breeches. I've never seen them 'in person.' You've inspired me to put them on my 'must find' list for next year. Too late this year unfortunately.

KodasTotems said...

So very SWEET! :)

Emily Brisse said...

Wonderful photos! I've been charmed by the name "Dutchman's breeches" many times, but I never knew what they looked like. I'm a fan of nature education, so thanks!

Hundewanderer said...

Wow, such beautiful flowers.

We've had little rain in AZ and few wildflowers. We'll reach 100 degrees this week, so I'll have to hope for more wildflowers next Spring.

Thank you for sharing your world with me :)

A Colorful World said...

I love all the wonderful information you share on the species in your posts. I adore learning about native plants in particular, and will miss the "eastern woodlands" as I move out west (something I never dreamed I would do!) How sweet the little Dutchman's Breeches are! Thanks so much for sharing.

brochure design said...

not ever noticed that wild flowers can be beautiful too.
Great pictures.