Plants perennial, scapose, from short rootstocks bearing yellow, globose bulblets. Leaves (10-)14-24(-30) × (4-)6-14(-18) cm; petiole (5-)8-16(-22) cm; blade with 4 orders of leaflets and lobes; abaxial surface glaucous; ultimate lobes linear to linear-elliptic or linear-obovate, (2-)5-15(-23) × (0.4-)2-4 mm, usually minutely apiculate. Inflorescences racemose, 3-12-flowered, usually exceeding leaves, (10-)15-27(-33) cm; bracts ovate, 2-5 × 1-3 mm. Flowers pendent, very fragrant; pedicels (2-)3-7(-14) mm; sepals triangular to ovate, 2-4 × 1-2 mm, apex acuminate; petals white; outer petals (10-)12-16(-20) × (2-)4-5(-8) mm, reflexed portion 3-5 mm; inner petals (10-)12-15(-18) mm, blade 2-4 mm, claw linear-elliptic, 5-9 mm, crest prominent, ca. 2 mm diam., exceeding apex by ca. 2 mm; filaments of each bundle distinct nearly to base; nectariferous tissue forming 0.5-1 mm spur oriented vertically; style 4-7 mm; stigma shallowly 2-horned with 2 lateral papillae. Capsules ovoid, attenuate at both ends, (5-)9-13(-17) × 3-6 mm. Seeds slightly reniform, very obscurely reticulate, elaiosome present. Flowering early-late spring. Deciduous woods, often among rock outcrops, in rich loam soils; 0-1500 m; Ont., Que.; Conn., D.C., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Mo., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis. See discussion under the following species.
Much like no. 1 [Dicentra cucullaria (L.) Bernh.]; bulblets fewer and about twice as big, pea-shaped, yellow; lvs typically 1 per scape, blue-green, glaucous; cor narrowly ovate, its spurs short, broadly rounded, scarcely divergent; nectary-spurs 0.5-1 mm; 2n=64. Rich woods; s. Me. and s. Que. to s. Minn., s. to N.C., Tenn., and Mo. Apr., May.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
This species is found possibly throughout the state, although there are no specimens or reports from the southwestern counties. It grows in deep, rich leafmold in well drained soil, usually on wooded slopes. It is much rarer than the next species [Dicentra cucullaria] both in its distribution and in its abundance where found. This and the next species [D. cucullaria] are reported to be poisonous to stock.