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Vascular Plants of California
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Dicentra formosa

Higher Taxonomy
Family: PapaveraceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to small tree; sap colorless, yellow, orange, red, or white. Leaf: basal, cauline, or both, simple and entire, toothed, or lobed, or 1--3-pinnate-dissected or compound; cauline generally alternate; stipules 0. Inflorescence: terminal, 1-flowered or cyme, raceme, or panicle; bracts generally present. Flower: bisexual, radial, bilateral, or biradial; sepals 2--3, shed after flower; petals generally 2 × sepals in number; stamens generally many; ovary 1, superior, chamber 1, style 0 or 1, stigmas or lobes 2--many, ovules few to many. Fruit: capsule, dehiscent by valves or pores, +- nut, or breaking transversely into 1-seeded, indehiscent units. Seed: fleshy appendage generally 0.
Genera In Family: 25--30 genera, 200 species: northern temperate, northern tropics; some cultivated (Papaver, Eschscholzia, Hunnemannia), source of opiates. Note: Stylomecon moved to Papaver. Corydalis, Dicentra, Fumaria in Fumariaceae in FNANM, elsewhere. Glaucium flavum Crantz is a waif. According to FNANM (3:300--301), Hunnemannia fumariifolia Sweet (+- like Eschscholzia except sepals free) an occasional waif in California, but documentation evidently lacking. Fleshy appendage of seed sometimes for dispersal by ants.
eFlora Treatment Author: Gary L. Hannan & Curtis Clark, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: DicentraView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Perennial herb, glabrous, glaucous or not; sap colorless. Leaf: basal, deeply dissected, segments often lobed. Inflorescence: raceme, panicle, or 1-flowered. Flower: biradial, nodding to erect; sepals 2, shed after flower; petals 4, white or cream to pale yellow to pink or pink-tipped, persistent or not, outer 2 free, lanceolate, alike, both pouched at base, inner 2 adherent at tips, oblanceolate, +- crested on back; stamens 6, +- fused in 2 sets opposite outer petals; ovary cylindric to long-conic, placentas 2, style 1, stigma lobes 2. Fruit: oblong, fusiform to ovate, or conic, dehiscent from tip. Seed: few, 1--2 mm, oblong to reniform, smooth to finely netted, black; fleshy appendage present.
Species In Genus: 18 species: North America, Asia; some ornamental. Etymology: (Greek: twice spurred, from outer petals) Note: Other species in TJM (1993) moved to Ehrendorferia (Liden et al. 1997 Plant Syst Evol 206:411--420).
eFlora Treatment Author: Gary L. Hannan
Dicentra formosa (Haw.) Walp.
Habit: Plant 20--45 cm, rhizomed. Leaf: 2-ternate-dissected, 20--50 cm. Inflorescence: 2--30-flowered. Flower: nodding; outer petals 14--19 mm, rose-purple to cream or pale yellow, not drying black; base of central stamen of each set aligned with lateral 2. Fruit: 14--20 mm, oblong.
Ecology: Damp, shaded areas; Elevation: < 2400 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, CaR, SNH, n CW; Distribution Outside California: to British Columbia. Flowering Time: Mar--Jul Note: Further study needed to determine if small plants from northwestern KR (leaves blue-glaucous adaxially; petals cream to pale yellow with rose tips), described as Dicentra formosa subsp. oregana (Eastw.) Munz, Oregon bleeding heart, deserve taxonomic recognition.
Jepson eFlora Author: Gary L. Hannan
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Botanical illustration including Dicentra formosa

botanical illustration including Dicentra formosa


Citation for this treatment: Gary L. Hannan 2012, Dicentra formosa, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 22, 2019.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2019, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 22, 2019.

Dicentra formosa subsp. formosa
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© 2010 Keir Morse
Dicentra formosa subsp. formosa
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© 2009 Barry Breckling
Dicentra formosa
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© 2003 Christopher L. Christie
Dicentra formosa
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© 2003 Christopher L. Christie
Dicentra formosa subsp. formosa
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© 2016 Keir Morse
Dicentra formosa
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© 2011 Julie Kierstead Nelson

More photos of Dicentra formosa in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Dicentra formosa:
NW, CaR, SNH, n CW;
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.