BLEEDING-HEART

Dicentra formosa

Poppy Family [Papaveraceae]  

month8apr month8april month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

status
statusZneophyte
 
flower
flower8bicolour
 
flower
flower8pink
 
inner
inner8white
 
inner
inner8yellow
 

morph
morph8zygo
 
petals
petalsZ2
 
type
typeZspurred
2 spurs
stem
stem8round
 
stem
stem8ribbed
 
stem
stem8fluted
 
toxicity
toxicityZmedium
 
contact
contactZmedium
 

20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Speading through a young open woods.


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
With planar fern-like leaves and small bunches of drooping flowers


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Even from close-up your Author had no idea what these flowers were.


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The flowers dangle in small racemes in close bunches, with the number of flowers on one upright stem about 9.


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Before the flowers are several very long in relation to their width bracts which taper gradually to a point.


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
On close inspection the main stem is fluted/ribbed and the side-branches angular. The flowers are like a double-barreled shotgun, with two long parts side by side, oval in outline except at the end where two cupped petals splay out sideways.


FLUTED
20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Some stems even do the twist with their flutes/ribs. As the flowers mature they become more heart-shaped, the rounded protrusions at the rear being two short wide and flattened spurs. Each side of a flattened heart-shape are two darker green sepals/tepals, one each side.


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
With TWO spurs at the rear (albeit short and rounded) and two sepals, one each side these flowers look more like those of Fumitories such as Purple Ramping-Fumitory, less so of Milkworts such as Common Milkwort (which lack spurs, but do have a similar flattened bisymmetric shape).


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
When the two symmetrical opposite parts of the cupped 'mouth' are open two fused lime-green 'tongues' can be seen and between them apparently 'oozing out' is a bluish-purple flattened rim, one either side (the two flowers at the bottom).
The top-most flower shows the same but turned at right-angles, where it can also be clearly seen that the two parts of the pink heart have a central bulge. The blue-purple rim is now seen end-on.


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Another view of the two heart-shaped petals, their two short spurs at the rear and the central doubled green and blue-purple rims revealed between the now fully opened petals. Exactly what these structures are botanically one can only guess that some are anthers whilst others are styles, but exactlywhich is which your Author can only ponder.


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
More to ponder over.


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Leaves both bright-green and glaucous-green. One presumes that the brighter green leaves are newer.


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The leaves are tripinnately lobed, with the individual pinnules being toothed at the end.


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
The pinnules are toothed but the cuts dont go all the way to the centre, otherwise the leaves might be described as tetrapinnate. The leaves are planar; even the leaf 'stalks' are flattened.


20th April 2018, Skellgill, Newlands Valley, Cumbria Photo: © RWD
Each leaflet tooth tipped by a tiny Hydathode (means of expelling water).


Lookee-likees: the flowers are reminiscent of Fumitories such as Purple Ramping-Fumitory, (Fumaria purpurea) less so of Milkworts such as Common Milkwort (Polygala vulgaris) (which lack spurs, but do have a similar flattened bisymmetric shape). In fact, taxonomists used to think that Dicentra species belonged in the Fumariaceae family (Fumitory), so your Author is pleased to have looked in that family first for a match, but failed (had he looked in an older book he would have succeeded).

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : close inspection reveals that there are two short, rounded, flattened spurs at the rear of each flower

No relation to : Love-lies-Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) [a plant belonging to the differing Pigweed Family, Amaranthaceae nor with Blood-drop Emlets (Mimulus luteus), a Monkeyflower nor with Bloody Crane's-bill (Geranium sanguineum), a member of the Geranium Family.

The Genus Dicentra used to belong to the Fumariaceae (Fumitory) Family but has since been re-assigned to the Papaveraceae (Poppy Family). Also, the common name 'Bleeding Heart' now refers to two very similar plants, one in the Dicentra genus (which contains two plants and a hybrid) and the other in the Lamprocapnos genus (which contains only one plant). It is expected that Taxonomists will rationalise the genus name for both of these plants to either one or the other (Lamprocapnos or Dicentra)

There is more than one Cultivar assigned the designation 'Bleeding Heart'. The one shown here is Dicentra formosa (with both basal leaves and leaves on stems), the other being Dicentra spectrabilis, the more garden plant of Dicentra species. The more common garden variety of Bleeding Heart is called Asian Bleeding-heart (Dicentra spectabilis).

In the U.K. it is more likely to be found growing in a garden than growing wild beside a stream.

Contact with the plant by the skin can cause an allergic skin reaction with sensitive individuals.

OPIOID ALKALOIDS


[Morphine for comparison only, Asian Bleeding-Heart contains none].

Bleeding-Heart is poisonous, containing the isoquinoline alkaloids Protopine, Sanguinarine, Chelerythrine as well as apomorphine and ProtoBerberine alkaloids. Ingestion of the plant is dangerous; with sedative, spasmolytic and narcotic properties, which can lead to dizziness, gastro-intestinal, kidney disturbances and heart arrhythmia.

Apomorphine has many chemical differences from Morphine, but is so named because it is the product of boiling morphine in concentrated acid, hardly a natural occurrence. Before Viagra came upon the scene, it was once used for erectile dysfunction. It is used to treat Parkinsons disease and in treating heroin addiction. An unstable colourless liquid itself, decomposing in 24 hours, it stains green on contact.


Bleeding-Heart does not contain Heroin, which is just shown here to illustrate the similarity between itself and that of Morphine. Two acetyl groups have replaced the two hydroxyl radicals, and the compound is zwitterionic, having a positive charge on the now tetra-valent nitrogen atom. Heroin does not, as far as is known, occur naturally; it is entirely synthetic. Needless to say, it is deadly poisonous.

This plant does not appear in that thick heavy botanical book commonly referred to as 'Stace 3' by Prof. Clive Stace but it does appear in the BSBI database.


  Dicentra spectabilis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Papaveraceae  

Distribution
 family8Fumitory family8Fumariaceae family8Poppy family8Papaveraceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Dicentra
Dicentra
(Bleeding-hearts)

BLEEDING-HEART

Dicentra formosa

Poppy Family [Papaveraceae]  

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