About 20 species of Dicentra, Bleeding Heart, a poppy, are found around the world. Cultivated Bleeding Heart originally grew in Asia. Now the plant is introduced around the world. A popular garden plant, Bleeding Hearts require minimal care. To keep them from taking over her garden, Erika must cut and weed these perennials. Ants disperse Bleeding Hearts. Ants collect lipids found on Bleeding Heart seeds. The arthropods take the seeds to their burrows, where ants eat the lipids, but do not damage the seeds. The plants also attract hummingbirds, which are their main pollinators.
Bleeding Hearts should be handled with care. They are poisonous, causing rashes in some people and sometimes killing cattle. Deer avoid Dicentra. No species of Dicentra should be ingested. Indigenous Bleeding Hearts were used by settlers and Native Peoples for the treatment of sprains, bruises, and insect bites. The plant is eaten, however, by some butterfly larvae, snails, and aphids (Softscholls.com; Buzzle).