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Common Name: Squirrel Corn
Dicentra canadensis is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.15 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine
The plant is potentially poisonous and can also cause skin rashes[
Eastern N. America - S. Quebec, Minnesota, N. Carolina, Tennessee.
]. Deciduous woods, often among rock outcrops, 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 according to one report[
] whilst another says that it prefers heavier shade[
]. Grows well in a sheltered corner of the rock garden.
The seed is very difficult to harvest, it ripens and falls from the plant very quickly[
This species is closely related to D. cucullaria[
After fruit set, the bulblets of Dicentra canadensis remain dormant until 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[
Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[
Root. No further details are given.
The dried tubers are alterative, diuretic and tonic[
]. The tubers are useful in the treatment of chronic cutaneous affections, syphilis, scrofula and some menstrual complaints[
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[
]. 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[