BLEEDING HEART

Dicentra spectabilis

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
stem
stem8round
toxicity
toxicityZmedium
contact
contactZmedium

22nd May 2009, Beer Garden, Newfield Inn, Duddon Valley. Photo: © RWD
Leaves typical of Fumitory Family: greyish green, but in this instance much larger than Fumitories.


22nd May 2009, Beer Garden, Newfield Inn, Duddon Valley. Photo: © RWD
Pendulous flowers, heart-shaped in two halves, and deep pink.


22nd May 2009, Beer Garden, Newfield Inn, Duddon Valley. Photo: © RWD
At first the petal is un-furled, but later folds upwards to reveal a long drooping white flag with a yellowish green central splurge of colour. Flower stems deep red to beetroot.


22nd May 2009, Beer Garden, Newfield Inn, Duddon Valley. Photo: © RWD
The pink heart-shaped petals are in two halves.


22nd May 2009, Beer Garden, Newfield Inn, Duddon Valley. Photo: © RWD
The dangling white flag with yellowish-green markings conceals the pinkish reproductive parts.


22nd May 2009, Beer Garden, Newfield Inn, Duddon Valley. Photo: © RWD


22nd May 2009, Beer Garden, Newfield Inn, Duddon Valley. Photo: © RWD
The light-green, slightly greyish leaves are, like most plants of the Fumitory Family, asymmetric in ternate triplets (three threes).


Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

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 Cranesbill (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).

There is more than one Cultivar assigned the designation Bleeding Heart. The one shown here is Dicentra spectabilis (with both basal leaves and leaves on stems), the other being Dicentra formosa which is of similar shape, but with only basal leaves, lacking leaves on stems. There are also various other cultivars including a totally white version of Dicentra spectabilis (variation alba).

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, 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.


  Dicentra spectabilis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Papaveraceae  

Distribution
 family8Fumitory family8Fumariaceae family8Poppy family8Papaveraceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Dicentra
Dicentra
(Bleeding-hearts)

BLEEDING HEART

Dicentra spectabilis

Poppy Family [Papaveraceae]  

WildFlowerFinder Homepage