Pacific Bleeding Heart

There are many wonders to enjoy as I walk the trail behind my house. But one of my favorites has to be Pacific Bleeding Heart  (Dicentra formosa) which lines the path in spring and into summer. The foliage creates a soft feathery border about a foot off the ground. The blossoms are heart-shaped and grow on long arched stems which rise above the leaf bed.

The plant’s range extends from southern British Columbia down into the west coast states, and reaches east into Idaho and western Montana. It is also said to grow in Massachusetts, but I do not know why it grows there, but not anywhere else east of Montana.

Although the plant slowly extends its range into suitable areas by rhizomes, it also has help from ants which carry the seeds to new locations as part of a symbiotic relationship.

The Pacific Bleeding Heart prefers moist, shady wooded locations but is drought tolerant. The tender stems would appear to be tempting to deer, but the deer leave them alone.

The flowers of this species are not as large or showy as many of the nursery varieties of bleeding hearts, but when you come across a patch of them in the woods, they are quite a sight to behold.

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8 Responses to Pacific Bleeding Heart

  1. montucky says:

    This is gorgeous! I like the flowers even better than the nursery variety we have in a flower bed. I sure hope it will extend its range into the area! Our nursery variety does very well here, so maybe this one will too!

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  2. skadhu says:

    Lovely pictures! Your comment re the deer was interesting—last year the deer found (made) access to our yard and pretty much destroyed it before we found the access points. One of the things they completely destroyed was a big bleeding heart-plant—one of the commercially available ones, not the native. I wonder if there’s something in the native plants that isn’t in the nursery varieties, or vice versa?

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  3. Paula B says:

    These are MUCH better than the nursery variety. What a nice post, Rick. You’ve woven the facts about this wonderful flower into a beautiful story. You’re a great writer! Look forward to reading more…

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  4. seekraz says:

    I love seeing such delicate flowers out in “the wild.”

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