Herb: Dutchman's Breeches

Latin name: Dicentra cucullaria

Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)

Medicinal use of Dutchman's Breeches:

Alterative, tonic. The dried tubers were used as a tonic and were recommended in the treatment of VD. A tea made from the roots is diaphoretic and diuretic. A poultice made from the leaves has been used in the treatment of skin ailments and as a muscle rub to make them more limber. The plant contains an alkaloid that depresses the central nervous system - it is used in the treatment of paralysis and tremors.

Description of the plant:


12 cm
(4 3/4 inch)


Habitat of the herb:

Cool places in rich mountain woods.

Propagation of Dutchman's Breeches:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed should be sown in March. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 6 months at 15C. Two weeks warm stratification at 18C followed by six weeks at 2C can shorten up the germination time. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in early spring. Best done when the plant is dormant in late winter. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring. Root cuttings 7 - 10cm long in sandy soil in a cold frame.

Cultivation of the herb:

Cool places in rich mountain woods.

Known hazards of Dicentra cucullaria:

The plant is potentially poisonous and can also cause skin rashes.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.