Dicentra formosa (Haw.) Walp.
Pacific Bleeding Heart, Pacific Bleedinghearts, Western Bleedingheart
Fumariaceae (Fumitory Family)
USDA Symbol: DIFO
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
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 18 inches tall.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink , Yellow , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
DistributionUSA: CA , MA , OR , WA
Native Distribution: C. CA to w. B.C.
Native Habitat: Cool, damp woods
Growing ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitUse 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
PropagationDescription: 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
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording 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 ReferenceWebref 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 resourcesUSDA: Find Dicentra formosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Dicentra formosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Dicentra formosa
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-02-06
Research By: TWC Staff