Plants perennial, scapose, from short rootstocks bearing yellow, globose bulblets. Leaves (10-)14-24(-30) × (4-)6-14(-18) cm; petiole (5-)8-16(-22) cm; blade with 4 orders of leaflets and lobes; abaxial surface glaucous; ultimate lobes linear to linear-elliptic or linear-obovate, (2-)5-15(-23) × (0.4-)2-4 mm, usually minutely apiculate. Inflorescences racemose, 3-12-flowered, usually exceeding leaves, (10-)15-27(-33) cm; bracts ovate, 2-5 × 1-3 mm. Flowers pendent, very fragrant; pedicels (2-)3-7(-14) mm; sepals triangular to ovate, 2-4 × 1-2 mm, apex acuminate; petals white; outer petals (10-)12-16(-20) × (2-)4-5(-8) mm, reflexed portion 3-5 mm; inner petals (10-)12-15(-18) mm, blade 2-4 mm, claw linear-elliptic, 5-9 mm, crest prominent, ca. 2 mm diam., exceeding apex by ca. 2 mm; filaments of each bundle distinct nearly to base; nectariferous tissue forming 0.5-1 mm spur oriented vertically; style 4-7 mm; stigma shallowly 2-horned with 2 lateral papillae. Capsules ovoid, attenuate at both ends, (5-)9-13(-17) × 3-6 mm. Seeds slightly reniform, very obscurely reticulate, elaiosome present. Flowering early-late spring. Deciduous woods, often among rock outcrops, in rich loam soils; 0-1500 m; Ont., Que.; Conn., D.C., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Mo., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis. See discussion under the following species.
Much like no. 1 [Dicentra cucullaria (L.) Bernh.]; bulblets fewer and about twice as big, pea-shaped, yellow; lvs typically 1 per scape, blue-green, glaucous; cor narrowly ovate, its spurs short, broadly rounded, scarcely divergent; nectary-spurs 0.5-1 mm; 2n=64. Rich woods; s. Me. and s. Que. to s. Minn., s. to N.C., Tenn., and Mo. Apr., May.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.