squirrel corn

(Dicentra canadensis)

Conservation Status


No image available

  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

S3 - Vulnerable


Special Concern


Squirrel corn is a 4 to 12 tall, erect, perennial forb with a short rhizome that is covered with yellow, round or corn kernel shaped shaped bulblets. Usually 1 but sometimes 2 leaves and a flowering stalk arise from each bulblet.

There is no central stem.

The leaves are all basal. They are 4 to 12 long, but usually 5½ to 9½ long, 1½ to 7 wide, but usually 2 to 5½ wide. They are on 2 to 8 long, but usually 3 to 6¼ long, slender, often brown stalks. The leaves are divided into 3 primary leaflets. Each leaflet is again divided into 3 secondary leaflets. These secondary leaflets may be again divided into 3 tertiary leaflets. The ultimate leaflets (secondary or, if any, tertiary), are cleft into linear or narrowly oblong lobes, and end in a minute, abrupt tip. The margins are untoothed. The upper leaf surface is bluish green, hairless, smooth to the touch, and covered with a whitish, waxy coating (glaucous). The underside is hairless and glaucous.

The inflorescence is a long, unbranched cluster of 3 to 12 flowers at the end of a flowering stalk (scape). The scape is slender, hairless, and leafless. It is 4 to 12 long, but usually 6 to 10½ long, arches at the tip, and usually extends above the leaves.

The flowers are about ½ long and ¾ wide. They flowers hang downward on hairless flower stalks that are from a little over 1 16 to ½ long. There are 4 petals, the 2 inner petals white, the 2 outer petals white. The outer petals are pouch-like and have short, scarcely diverging nectar spurs with broadly rounded tips. The inner petals are much narrower, are united at the tips, and have small wings that curl upward. The flowers are fragrant.

The fruit is a spindle-shaped capsule that tapers to a point at both ends. The capsules are 3 16 to long, but usually to ½ long, and to ¼ wide. They contain several seeds.




4 to 12


Flower Color




Similar Species


Slender corydalis (Corydalis micrantha ssp. micrantha) flowers are yellow and have a single nectar spur.

Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) bulblets are more numerous, half as big, pink to white, and shaped like a tear-drop. There are usually 2 leaves per scape. The upper leaf surface is yellowish green, rough to the touch, and is not glaucous. The nectar spurs are long and widely diverging. The flowers are not fragrant. It is found throughout Minnesota except in the northeast.


Moist. Deciduous woods.




April to May


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Ranunculanae  


Ranunculales (buttercups, poppies, and allies)  


Papaveraceae (poppy)  
  Subfamily Fumarioideae  
  Tribe Fumarieae  
  Subtribe Corydalinae  


Dicentra (bleeding hearts)  

An analsis of the subfamily Fumarioideae (Lidén, 1986) proposed two new tribes, Corydaleae and Fumarieae. Currently, there is disagreement about the correct placement of the genus Dicentra. GRIN places Dicentra in the tribe Fumarieae and the subtribe Corydalinae. iNaturalist places Dicentra in the tribe Corydaleae. Most sources do not list a tribe for the genus.


Subordinate Taxa



  Bicuculla canadensis  

Common Names

  squirrel corn  









Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the node.



An erect, leafless stalk growing from the rootstock and supporting a flower or a flower cluster.

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  Dicentra canadensis (Squirrel Corn)
Allen Chartier
  Dicentra canadensis (Squirrel Corn)  



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Other Videos
  Squirrel Corn (Dicentra canadensis)

Published on Mar 26, 2012

I show the Squirrel Corn flower as well as what the root looks like to help you identify the plant




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