Plant of the Week: Dutchman’s Breeches
By: Emily Jorgensen, Engineering Division Conservation Technician
Pull up your pantaloons and get ready for 2023’s very first Plant of the Week. This plant kicked it into gear so hard its britches flipped clear upside-down. The aptly named Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) is part of a group of plants known as spring ephemerals. What’s a spring ephemeral, you ask? Well, this group of plants bloom super early in the spring. Often found in woodland ecosystems, these clever species take advantage of as much sunlight as possible by growing during the small time gap between when temperatures rise and when the trees leaf out. Just like that, ephemerals come in blazing and are gone (at least above ground) often in less than a month. This early nectar and pollen availability is much coveted by queen bees who emerge from their overwintering nests hungry and needing to feed both themselves and their offspring. That, and the fact that it looks like a pirate’s laundry room makes this a truly enjoyable plant.
This specimen posed so nicely for us in an Engineering-maintained pollinator planting. Once turf grass, this area adjacent to a bike path is now home to a diverse array of native species and is enjoyed by many a passerby both human and otherwise.”
Each week during the growing season, the Engineering Division focuses in on a Plant of the Week to raise awareness of different plants in the field that benefit our environment. Engineering Conservation Technician Emily Jorgensen shares her expert insight on these plants and their benefits each week in a creative way!