An odd-looking spring wildflower that resembles a series of miniature white knee breeches hanging on a line. Flowers 4–10 per stalk, stalk leafless, often leaning; flowers white or faint pink, with 2 diverging spurs (the “breeches”). Each flower is attached to the slender stem between the 2 spurs. Blooms March–May. Leaves on long petioles from base of plant, compound into 3 sections, finely divided, fernlike, bluish green. Root a cluster of grain-sized white or pink tubers.
Similar species: Squirrel corn (D. canadensis) is scattered and rare in our state, mostly in the northern half. It has greenish-white, heart-shaped flowers with short, rounded spurs, and it smells like hyacinths. Bleeding heart (D. spectabilis) is a familiar garden plant that can escape from cultivation or persist at old home sites.