My Heart Goes Out to Lamprocapnos spectabilis
Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) is one of the stars of my garden in May. This makes it even more unfortunate that it got switched from the genus Dicentra to the genus Lamprocapnos, one of the ugliest plant names in existence. Yes, I’ve carried on about this before, but bear with me.
What makes it even more insulting is that there are eight Dicentra species that didn’t have to switch genera. You know how many species had to switch? Just one. In fact, poor Bleeding Heart is all alone, the only species in the genus Lamprocapnos, which makes it feel both isolated and stigmatized. No wonder it’s bleeding.
Speaking of which, Bleeding Heart didn’t exactly win the lottery in the common name department, either. I mean, Bleeding Heart sounds rather grisly. Another common name is Lady-in-the-Bath, but when you look at the flower it appears this name should be revised to Lady-Upside-Down-in-the-Bath, which raises all kinds of practical questions.
Another common name, which I like, is Lyre Flower. I would use that name except that I fear very few people would know what I was talking about.
Anyhow, I love this plant. in my garden, it thrives in moist soils in shade, though the soil should not be wet over winter. If it’s happy, it makes a mound of bushy loveliness about three feet tall and wide. While it is supposed to be ephemeral, here in zone 5 I find that the foliage lasts until at least late summer if the conditions are right.
There is nothing quite like the heart-shaped flowers that dangle from long, arching stems. These blooms keep coming for a month or more.
And here’s another plus: rabbits leave it alone.
Great companions for Bleeding Heart include Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla) and all kinds of ferns.
Bleeding Heart originated in northeast Asia. There is a North American native Bleeding Heart, Dicentra eximia. However (and I know I may upset some friends when I say this), in my opinion the exotic Bleeding Heart is far showier and preferable to the native.
Do you grow Bleeding Heart in your garden?