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Common Name: Dutchman's Breeches
Dicentra cucullaria is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.12 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine..
The plant is potentially poisonous and can also cause skin rashes[
Eastern N. America - Nova Scotia to N. Carolina and west to Kansas.
Cool places in rich mountain woods[
]. Deciduous woods and clearings, in rich loam soils from sea level to 1500 metres[
Easily grown in a rich light soil[
], preferably neutral to slightly acid[
]. Prefers light shade and a sheltered position[
] but also succeeds in heavier shade[
Plants are hardy to at least -20°c[
The seed is difficult to harvest, it ripens and falls from the plant very quickly[
The plant becomes dormant in the summer[
]. After fruit set, the bulblets of Dicentra cucullaria remain dormant until the autumn, when stored starch is converted to sugar. At this time also, flower buds and leaf primordia are produced below ground; these then remain dormant until spring[
This species is closely related to D. canadensis[
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
The dried tubers were used as a tonic and were recommended in the treatment of VD[
A tea made from the roots is diaphoretic and diuretic[
A poultice made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of skin ailments and as a muscle rub to make them more limber[
The plant contains an alkaloid that depresses the central nervous system - it is used in the treatment of paralysis and tremors[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[
]. Stored seed should be sown in early spring[
]. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 6 months at 15°c[
]. Two weeks warm stratification at 18°c followed by six weeks at 2°c can shorten up the germination time[
]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Division in early spring[
]. Best done when the plant is dormant in late winter[
]. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
Root cuttings 7 - 10cm long in sandy soil in a cold frame[