Among the many ephemeral springtime flowers, none is more elegant or unique than Lamprocapnos spectabilis, commonly known as “bleeding heart.” This beloved perennial features fern-like leaves and gracefully arching stems strung with dangling pink heart-shaped flowers from which a single drop of white protrudes.
Bleeding heart was first discovered in Asia by a member of the Royal Horticultural Society and brought to England in 1946. However, there is also a wild bleeding heart species native to North America, fringed bleeding heart.
Old-fashioned pink bleeding hearts have been in cultivation the longest, and after attempts to hybridize the Asian and North American species failed, it became clear that the two species were not closely related. A new name was in order, which is why sometimes you see bleeding hearts referred to as Dicentra spectabilis and other times as Lamprocapnos spectabilis. L. spectabilis is the old-fashioned bleeding heart, though in older texts you will find them referred to as D. spectabilis — now used only for fringed bleeding hearts.