Plants perennial, scapose, from elongate, stout, scaly rhizomes. Leaves (10-)20-35(-55) × (5-)10-15(-30) cm; blade with 4 orders of leaflets and lobes; abaxial surface glaucous; penultimate lobes lanceolate to oblong or ovate, (6-)10-20(-35) × 2-5 mm. Inflorescences paniculate, 5-many-flowered, usually exceeding leaves, (20-)30-45(-65) cm; bracts lanceolate, 3-6(-11) × 1-2 mm, apex acuminate. Flowers pendent; sepals reniform, 2-5(-8) × 1.5-4 mm, apex acuminate; petals rose-purple to pink, rarely white; outer petals (15-)20-25(-30) × 2-5 mm, reflexed portion 4-8 mm; inner petals (15-)18-22(-25) mm, blade 2-4 mm, claw linear-lanceolate, 5-10(-14) × 1-2.5 mm, crest 1-3 mm diam., exceeding apex by 2-3 mm; filaments of each bundle connate at base and near apex, distinct in between, distinct portion of median filament forming loop that lies within base of outer petal; nectariferous tissue borne toward base of median filament; style 7-14 mm; stigma 2-horned. Capsules oblong to ovoid, (15-)18-22(-27) × ca. 4 mm. Seeds slightly reniform, ca. 2 mm diam., finely reticulate, elaiosome present. 2 n = 16. Flowering mid spring-early fall. Dry to moist, rocky, mountain woods, often in rock crevices at cliff bases; 100-1700 m; Md., N.J., N.C., Pa., Tenn., Va., W.Va. The natural range of Dicentra eximia extends along the Appalachians from North Carolina and Tennessee to Maryland and Pennsylvania. It is frequently cultivated and sometimes escapes outside that area, but it evidently has not become truly naturalized beyond it. Such garden escapes, perhaps including misidentified plants of D . formosa , also widely cultivated, are almost surely the basis for reports of D . eximia from Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. Several patented hybrids between Dicentra eximia and D . formosa are sold in nurseries.
Lvs and scapes from a short, stout, scaly rhizome, without bulblets; lvs eventually to 4 dm (petiole included), ternately dissected into lanceolate or oblong, coarsely toothed segments; scape 2-5 dm, bearing a mixed panicle of nodding pink fls; cor narrowly ovoid, 18-25 mm, cordate at base, the spurs short and rounded; tips of the outer pet divergent, 5-6 mm; nectary-spurs virtually obsolete; 2n=16. Dry or moist mt. woods; chiefly s. Appalachian sp., from N.C. and Tenn. to W.Va., Pa., N.J., and s. and w. N.Y. May-Aug.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.