E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Dicentra formosa (Haw.) Walp.
Pacific bleeding heart
Papaveraceae (Fumitory family)
(Previously in Fumariaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Lydia Dani  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #74935)

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Distribution of Dicentra formosa
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Dicentra formosa ssp. formosa

Species Information

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Perennial herb from a slender, brittle rhizome; stems erect, glabrous, juicy, flowering stems leafless, 15-45 cm tall.
Basal leaves 3-4 times divided, the ultimate segments linear to oblong, abruptly pointed.
Inflorescence of 5-15 flowers in a drooping panicle; corollas pinkish-purple, heart-shaped at the base; outer petals with a pouched spur 2-4 mm long, tips 3-4 mm long and spreading; inner petals 10-15 mm long.
Pod-like capsules, 2-3.5 cm long, 3-4 mm wide; seeds 2 mm long with a white oil-rich appendage, black, shiny.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Early Summer
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Black
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist woodlands, forests and streambanks in the lowland and montane zones; common in SW BC, infrequent eastward in S BC; S to CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Dicentra formosa

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 5 305 2050
Slope Gradient (%) 0 14 120
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 240 350
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CDF(1), CWH(179), IDF(1), MH(3)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to montane, Western North American forb distributed more in the Pacific than the Cordilleran region. Occurs in maritime to submaritime cool mesothermal climates on fresh to very moist, nitrogen-rich soils; its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation and continentality. Sporadic to plentiful in the herbaceous understory of young-seral forests on water-receiving sites; most common in broadĀ­leaved forests. Occasional in early-seral comĀ­munities on disturbed sites (burns and clearings). A nitrophytic species characteristic of Moder and Mull humus forms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is cool mesothermal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Dicentra formosa subsp. nevadensis (Eastw.) Munz

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References