Dutchman’s Breeches Hanging Out on the Hillsides

Now that we’re into the second month of Spring flowers are popping out all over the place. Everywhere you look you can see trees covered in white and pink or yellow flowers. Spring bulbs like daffodils and tulips seem to be planted by a few homes on every street. Even the barren cornfields and woodlands are sporting flowers at this time of the year.

One plant that is always on my list of posies to go hunting for in early to mid-Spring is the Dutchman’s Breeches. With such a name it’s got to strike some curiosity!

Look on south-facing hillsides for this Spring ephemeral. The fringed or frilly foliage appears in rounded clumps among the brown leaf litter.

Hillside with Dutchman's Breeches
Hillside with Dutchman’s Breeches

Dutchman's Breeches growing on a hill near the parkway.
Dutchman’s Breeches growing on a hill near the parkway.

Dutchman's Breeches Closeup
Dutchman’s Breeches Closeup

Dutchman's Breeches Hold Flowers over the Leaves
Dutchman’s Breeches Hold Flowers over the Leaves

Several pantaloon-shaped flowers hang from a single curved stem that arises from a cluster of lacy leaves. The breeches, or britches as we would say, appear to be hung from the crotch with the feet pointing up in the air and held above the leaves.

The Arching Flower Stem of Dutchman's Breeches
The Arching Flower Stem of Dutchman’s Breeches

Dutchman's Pantaloons Hanging in the Breeze
Dutchman’s Pantaloons Hanging in the Breeze

Well, I know a few Dutch men in this area of Amish farms and none of them wear white pants. Sure, the Amish still hang their laundry on the line outside to dry, but I wonder if that’s really where the name came from. Probably everybody dried their clothing on the line when Dutchman’s Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria, was named. I still think of those guys when I see these cute flowers though.

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