Despite the fact that the rose is classically considered the ultimate floral symbol of romance, the bleeding heart flower is quickly catching up. One glance at the distinctive heart shape of these blossoms and you will understand why. Bleeding hearts belong to the small dicentra genus, which is a member of the fumariaceae family. These blossoms, which are herbaceous perennials, are native to regions of North America and eastern Asia. Bleeding hearts generally reach 2 to 3 feet in both height and width. Their thick, arching stems contain long divided leaves that are dark green with faintly red veins. The flowers themselves hang like pendants from the stems, and are made up of two small sepals; two joined and perfectly straight inner petals; and two ballooned or spurred external petals. Although dicentra spectabilis – one of the most common species of bleeding hearts – only comes in colors of white and dark pink, other species may be seen in rose, dusky lilac, or even a faint, peachy pink hue.
Because of its characteristic shape, the bleeding heart flower is at the center of many folkloric tales. One of the best known stories – which has many variations – is generally told directly through the anatomy of the plant itself. This story tells of a prince who tries to win the heart of a beautiful maiden by giving her gifts. With each gift, two of the petals are removed. Despite his attempts, the maiden continues to refuse the prince, and so he pierces himself through the heart – the heart having been formed with the discarded petals, the knife with the green stamen. The essence of the bleeding heart flower is said to open up and strengthen the heart chakra, which in turn causes a person to feel emotionally soothed and open to the possibility of new romance. It is thought to be especially useful after a heartbreak. These blossoms are also frequently used in love spells. One such spell includes braiding the flowers into your hair, lighting a white candle in honor of the goddess of love, and reciting a poem or incantation.
Although they may not be as common as other blooms, the bleeding heart flower can make a great romantic gift. These blossoms are almost exclusively considered a symbol of undying love, and are frequently given at weddings and special milestones like anniversaries or birthdays. These flowers make for a unique, stunning bouquet, but can also be given in gift baskets or as single-bud tokens of affection.