Squirrel Corn

Squirrel Corn
Squirrel Corn. Dicentra canadensis.
Papaveraceae, the poppy family, sometimes separated as Fumariaceae, the bleeding-heart family.

Plant: Low, spring-blooming, woodland plant, with small clusters of with white, heart-shaped flowers, and feathery, basal leaves about 6" high. Often grows in patches that may form a ground cover. Perennial.
Flowers: White, heart-shaped, with pink to brownish central markings, 1/2"-3/4" long, in a loose cluster (a raceme) generally with 4-10 flowers, extending slightly above the leaves. The flowers actually have 4 petals: two forming the edges of the "heart", and two forming the inner protruding structure.
Leaves: Basal, pinnately compound, with highly-dissected leaflets, giving a feathery appearance. 4"-8", with relatively long petioles.
Fruit: An oblong capsule.
Blooming: April-May
Habitat: Deciduous woods

Comments: An early spring flower in rich deciduous woods, the plant closely resembles a white bleeding heart, to which it is closely related. Duchman's Breaches (D. cucularea), another relative is found in similar habitats, but has longer, pointed spurs on the flowers. The common name, Squirrel Corn, supposedly refers to the corn-like appearance of the tuberous roots

Where to find it: Scattered through the upper woods of the park, and opening a week or two after the toothwort appears, along with trout lily and spring beauty. For some reason, the flowers are often uncommon in our patch of woods, and frequently large patches of foliage will be found with no flowers.