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Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

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Dicentra formosa (Pacific bleeding heart)
Loughmiller, Campbell and Lynn

Dicentra formosa

Dicentra formosa (Haw.) Walp.

Pacific Bleeding Heart, Pacific Bleedinghearts, Western Bleedingheart

Fumariaceae (Fumitory Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Drooping clusters of pink, heart-shaped flowers, flushed with lavender, are attached to the leafless stems of this perennial. Pink, heart-shaped flowers hang in small, branched clusters above soft, fern-like, bluish-green leaves at base. The airy, fern-like foliage occurs on separate stalks. Pacific bleedinghearts grows from 6-18 in. in height.

One of the nursery-trade species. Bleeding Heart (D. spectabilis), from Japan, has larger, rosy-red or white flowers, about 1" (2.5 cm) long.


From the Image Gallery

9 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 18 inches tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Yellow , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: CA , MA , OR , WA
Canada: BC
Native Distribution: C. CA to w. B.C.
Native Habitat: Cool, damp woods

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, humus-rich soil.
Conditions Comments: Western bleeding heart must be kept mulched with decaying humus, especially in cold winters. Extensive rhizome systems spread to establish colonies.


Use Wildlife: Hummingbirds
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Toxic only in large quantities. Causes minor skin irritation when touched, lasting only for a few minutes. Symptoms includes trembling, staggering, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, labored breathing. Skin irritation after repeated contact with the cell sap. Toxic Principle: Several isoquinolone alkaloids. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.);
Seeds are spread by ants.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds


Description: Divisions from rhizomes should be planted vertically in wet peat pots with the eye at soil level. Small, blooming plants will be ready the following year. This plant can also be propagated by seed, however it takes several years for seedlings to grow to
Seed Collection: Collect seeds in the summer.
Seed Treatment: Seeds need moist, cold stratification if they have not been given a natural overwinter treatment outdoors.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Dicentra formosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Dicentra formosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Dicentra formosa


Record Modified: 2023-02-06
Research By: TWC Staff

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