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Squirrel Corn Vs. Dutchman’ s Breeches

5-16-17 squirrel corn 130There are two white spring wildflowers that have nearly identical dissected leaves, are both suspended in multiple numbers from a single stalk, and have petals that form long spurs within which nectar is located. Their names are Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) and Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis). Although Dutchman’s Breeches usually flowers a week or so earlier than Squirrel Corn, they can both be found flowering now.

As their name implies, Dutchman’s Breeches flowers are shaped like tiny pantaloons hanging from a wash line. Squirrel Corn is a close relative of Dutchman’s Breeches. If you look closely you will see that Squirrel Corn flowers have no yellow “waistband” like Dutchman’s Breeches, and their spurs are more rounded, giving the flower more of a heart shape. Squirrel Corn is named for the yellow underground corms, or storage structures, on its roots which are shaped a bit like corn kernels, absent in Dutchman’s Breeches.

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3 responses

  1. shielaswett

    Thank you, Mary, I have always wondered which was which! You’re a life-saver once again :-))

    May 16, 2017 at 8:45 am

  2. Sara Hart

    Hi, Mary. I understand the corms look like corn kernels. But why are they called ‘Squirrel Corn’? Do squirrels eat them? Or is there any association with squirrels? Thank you! Sara

    May 16, 2017 at 8:49 am

    • What a great question. In all of my reading, I have never come across why “squirrel” corn. Would love to know if any reader has an explanation for why this particular mammal was chosen!

      May 16, 2017 at 8:57 am

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