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Dutchman’s Breeches Wildflower: Can You Grow A Dutchman’s Breeches Plant

By Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

You're likely to find Dutchman's breeches wildflower blooming in late spring and growing with other wildflowers in shaded woodland areas. Read here for Dutchman's breeches growing conditions.

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Dutchman’s Breeches - Dicentra cucullaria is a Native Wildflower

Dutchman's Breeches - Dicentra cucullaria. The Dutchman's Breeches is a wildflower that is native to eastern North America. It typically grows on forest floors, rocky woods, slopes, ledges, valleys, ravines and along streams. The name "Dutchman's Breeches" comes from their white flowers that resemble white breeches. The white flowers do not produce any fragrance and each flower has two yellow lobes at the base that open up like wings. The plant typically grows to 12" tall and has finely divided, fern-like, bluish or grayish green leaves. The Dutchman's Breech tends to bloom in the early spring (from March to May) and typically thrive in rich, medium moisture, well-drained soil.

Dutchman’s breeches are part of the Papaveraceae family and are native to Nova Scotia, North Carolina West to Kansas. Dutchman’s breeches are easily recognized and commonly grows on slopes, valleys, along streams, rocky woodlands and along forest floors. These plants will go dormant in summer, so it is not considered as a good border plant for your garden. Dry soils will speed up the dormant process it is tolerant of clay soils and rabbits. It blooms its white flowers with a slightly pinkish tinge in March, its shape is said to almost resembling pantaloons which is why it’s called Dutchman’s breeches. These are unique flowers as they appear on the plant during the spring. They provide gorgeous color and look amazing in gardens and natural areas. These plants also do very well when planted in large containers. They display a very natural look and feel as they grow and provide a gorgeous appearance during the early part of spring.

Dutchman Breeches Grow on Forest Floors, Rocky Woods and along Streams

These leaves can be crushed into a paste-like substance and can be used to keep muscle limber. The plant also has alkaloid that helps with the nervous system and is often used in essential oils to treat tremors and paralysis.

Dutchman's Breeches ( Dicentra cucullaria L ) produces distinctively shaped white or pink flowers between March and April. This perennial grows wild in Eastern half of North America and across parts of the Pacific Northwest and Idaho. Gardeners enjoy planting Dutchman's Breeches in partly shaded, moist locations from Zone 3 through Zone 9.

Characteristic Flowers

Dutchman's Breeches, a relative of Bleeding Hearts, also produces unusual flowers. They hang in rows along with slender stalks. The plant gained its colorful name centuries ago due to the resemblance of its blossoms to old-fashioned upside-down men's trousers. These delicate blooms won't leave the stem without wilting, but they contribute to fascinating horticultural displays every Spring.

A Woodland Treasure

The delicate, lacy dark green leaves of the Dutchman's Breeches bear a close similarity to ferns. Their compound lobes extend from the center of each leaf like a fringe. This beautiful forest plant typically ranges in height from 4 inches to a foot, making it an excellent edging selection for shaded gardens.

Dormant by The End of Summer

Many plants fall dormant during the late Autumn or early Winter. Dutchman's Breeches proves unusual by entering dormancy earlier than most other flowers. This perennial produces seed packets which reportedly carry a strong resemblance to grains of rice. Its unique properties make Dutchman's Breeches exceptional!


Great Basin National Park – Tips and Images

Great Basin National Park is a surprising place…way out in the middle of a lot of nothing-ness (close to both the Utah and Nevada borders). It takes some planning and forethought to get there but it is worth the effort. We stayed three days earlier in August along with my husband, son, and two of his friends.

We camped in one of the five campgrounds in the park, Baker Creek which is three miles up a gravel road that is accessible to most cars whether they have four wheel drive or not. We looked at each of the other campgrounds during our stay and they each have their own benefits so make sure to read about them on the website. All are first come, first serve so arrive early in the day for the best selection of sites. There are no hook-ups for RVs, all have simple vault toilets, and there are no showers….making for a real camping experience. There were lots of trees, nice picnic tables, and a babbling creek that some children were exploring when we were there.

The nearest place to perhaps find a room is in Baker, Nevada but Ely, Nevada is not too far either. Baker had a little grocery store (very limited), a cafe, and a gas station. The national park does not have a store except for a gift shop. There is a small cafe at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center.

There are two visitor centers at Great Basin National Park. The Great Basin Visitor Center (closest to the highway) is superb! We thoroughly enjoyed the interactive exhibits, historical displays, and nature based information that was presented. You can learn all about the bristlecone pines, the Great Basin habitat, and all the creatures found in this unique desert environment.

Great Basin National Park is trying to make a name for itself as a dark sky destination for viewing the night sky beauty. It bills itself as “one of the last true dark skies in America“. We wish we had been able to experience that part of the park but because of the super moon and the clouds…it wasn’t a great star viewing weekend. It will go back on the bucket list for future visits. You can find a schedule of astronomy events on the park’s Astronomy page.

The second other visitor center is the Lehman Caves Visitor Center. This wasn’t as updated or interactive as the other center but still very informative and interesting. We booked our cave tour here early in the morning and we only had a few choices of times available. Make reservations or arrive early to make sure to fit in a tour of the caves. There are two different cave tours and we took the ninety minute tour which takes you to every room open to the public. It was amazing!

I have been to quite a few caves but this one by far is the most interesting and beautiful of all. I also want to note that this cave has lots of tight confined spaces that you have to fit through (usually by turning your body sideways) and lots of low ceilings. I am fairly tall (5′ 10″) and many times I had to walk a distance with my head down to avoid touching the ceilings. Just a warning. This tour is appropriate for all ages as long as they are comfortable with walking since you can’t take strollers, carriers, or even backpacks on this tour.

There are also Park Ranger programs you can attend by viewing the schedule in the park newspaper or asking at either visitor center. The day we were there they were offering up scopes to few the sun and an interpreter to tell you all about what you are looking at.

There is a Jr. Ranger program at Great Basin National Park that we observed quite a few of the children participating in….ask at either visitor center for information. They also have a “Cave Cadet” pin so ask about that too!

My guys enjoyed the viewing scopes to look down from the park across the Great Basin…

Our group split up on hiking day. Three of use hiked the Bristlecone Trail and two hiked to the top of Wheeler Peak!

The trail up to the Bristlecone pines was empty when we hiked up early in the morning (around 8:30 AM). There is a rather large parking lot at the trailhead but it was FULL when we got back later in the morning. There are vault toilets (clean) in the parking lot once you wind your way up the road from the visitor’s center. It is a very high altitude and the views as you round the corners are majestic.

Bristlecone Pine Trail: The hiking trail itself is a little longer than posted at closer to 3.1 miles and not 2.8, as measured by our pedometers. It is a moderately difficult hike because of the length and elevation when you end up at a little over 10,000 feet.

Our group thoroughly enjoyed the hike and then the interpretive trail with signs teaching you more about these ancient trees. More information on the hike here.

Fascinating to think about how old some of these trees are and after going through the interpretive trail I am fairly sure I can identify these interesting trees.

View from the trail…amazing light and clouds the whole day long!

Wheeler Peak Summit Trail: We dropped the other group off at the Summit trailhead and they started off at around 8 AM. It is advised to start early so you aren’t up on the peak when the threat of afternoon thunderstorms roll in. There is a very small parking lot for this trailhead so plan to have someone drop you off or get there early. This is a very strenuous hike and fairly long at 8.6 miles roundtrip. You start at 10,100 feet in elevation and gain 2,900 feet going up to the summit. My son said the last portion of the hike is all exposed with no tree cover.

These two young boys completed the hike and said it was worth the effort because of the beautiful view from the top. I will take their word for it.

There is a turnout alongside the road where you can use these telescopes to look up at the peak. We could actually see people up there but not our boys.

One evening we walked along this trail which parallels Baker Creek and ended at our campground. What a beautiful place with the aspen trees, green grass, and the sound of running creek water.

There were lots of wildflowers which makes me happy.

Plenty of fungi to observe too!

Not so very glamorous after a week of camping and no showers at Great Basin. Our children are all growing up so we treasure the time we have to spend with even just one of them during a camping adventure. Planting seeds of appreciation for the natural world gifted to us by a loving Creator is something we highly value and have tried to do throughout our years as parents. Seeing our youngest share his love of the outdoors with his friends makes me smile from ear to ear.

Thanks for coming along on our Great Basin experience!

Some other things to know about Great Basin National Park:

  • No entrance fee!
  • There is a ticket cost for the cave tours.
  • This is the desert but it gets cold here so make sure to bring a jacket or sweatshirt even in the summer.
  • Check for operating hours before coming.
  • Visit the Things To Do pageon the park’s website for a good idea of how to spend your time.
  • You can download a pdfof the 2014 park Newspaper from the website.

You can read more of my national park tips in these entries:


Watch the video: Dutchmans Breeches: Medicinal u0026 Cautions


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