When does this bloom?
Where does this bloom?
367.6 Picnic Area, 458.2-Heintooga Spur Rd.
Dutchman’s Breeches is a perennial herbaceous plant, reaching a height of 15-40 cm. The leaves are 10-36 cm long and 4-18 cm broad, with a petiole up to 15 cm long; they are trifoliate, with finely divided leaflets. The flowers appear during spring; they are white, 1-2 cm long, and are born on flower stalks 12-25 cm long. Both the leaf stalks and the flower stalks rise from an underground, scaly bulb.
Dutchman’s breeches is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants, a process called myrmecochory. The seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants take the seeds to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes, and put the seeds in their nest debris, where they are protected until they germinate. They also get the added bonus of growing in a medium made richer by the ant nest debris.
Native Americans and early white practitioners considered this plant useful for syphilis, skin conditions and as a blood purifier. Dutchman’s breeches contains an alkaloid that depresses the central nervous system – it is used in the treatment of paralysis and tremors.
However, D. cucullaria may be toxic and may cause contact dermatitis in some people.