Dicentra formosa

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Dicentra formosa (western or Pacific bleeding-heart) is a herbaceous perennial growing from a rhizome, native to moist woodland from California to British Columbia.


Leaves are finely divided and fernlike, growing from the base of the plant.

Flowers are pink, red, or white and heart-shaped and bloom in clusters at the top of leafless, fleshy stems above the leaves from mid-spring to autumn, with peak flowering in spring. The four petals are attached at the base. The two outer petals form a pouch at the base and curve outwards at the tips. The two inner petals are perpendicular to the outer petals and connected at the tip. There are two tiny, pointed sepals behind the petals.

Seeds are borne in plump, pointed pods.

The plant frequently goes dormant for the summer after flowering, emerging and flowering again in autumn.

Similar species

This species is frequently confused with and sold as Dicentra eximia, which has narrower flowers and longer, more curved outer petal tips.


There are two subspecies:
  • Dicentra formosa subsp. formosa — leaves glaucous beneath and never glaucous above, flowers purple pink to pink or white<br><small>western slope of Sierra Nevada, Coast Ranges to central California, Cascades, extreme southwestern British Columbia</small>
  • Dicentra formosa subsp. oregona (often spelled oregana) — leaves glaucous above and beneath, flowers cream or pale yellow<br><small>small area of northwestern California......
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