Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bleeding Heart

Once, there was a poor young man who fell in love with a beautiful and wealthy maiden. Though he did not have much, he sought to find the most rare and expensive gifts for her in the hopes of winning her affection. First, he gave her a pair of sweet, luxurious rabbits to keep as pets.
Image courtesy of The Outspoken Yam
Although she accepted his gift, she refused to accept his love. Undeterred, he found a pair of slippers, crafted from the finest silk and presented them to her.
Image courtesy of More Friends and a Blog
Again, the maiden accepted his gift but his love she still refused to accept. Desperate, the young man searched far and wide until he came across the most exquisite pair of earrings. These he spent all of his meager savings on and tried one last time to win the love of the maiden.
Image courtesy of More Friends and a Blog
The heartless maiden took the earrings but refused the young man. With nothing left to give, the man finally realized that the maiden would never love him and heartbroken, he took his sword and stabbed himself in the heart.
Image courtesy of The Outspoken Yam
From where he fell, the first bleeding heart was born, a symbol of unrequited love.
Image courtesy of The Outspoken Yam
The tale you have just read is a Japanese folklore concerning the bleeding heart plant. As you can see from the pictures above, the flower can be used to tell the story, with the petals  symbolizing the gifts that the young man sent to the maiden.
Image courtesy of More Friends and a Blog
For another version of the tale from the 1900s as told by Annie Fellows Johnston, click here.

About the Plant

Common Name: Bleeding heart or Asian bleeding heart
Scientific Name: Lamprocapnos spectabilis
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Native to: Siberia, northern China, Japan, Korea
Also known as: Lady-in-a-bath, lyre flower, Dutchman's breeches
In other languages: Девојачко срце (Devojačko srce), 荷包牡丹 (Hébāo mǔdān), ケマンソウ (Kemansō), 금낭화 (Geumnanghwa)
Height: 2-3 ft.
Bloom time: April - May
Cultivation: Moist and cool climate, prefers part- to full-shade
Lady-in-a-bath (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Asanuma, Lisa. "Thursday Myth & Legends 101: Bleeding Hearts Flower." Tales from the Hollow Tree. Wordpress, 27 August 2009. Web. 13 February 2015 <>.

Heather. "The Bleeding Heart Story." More Friends and a Blog. Blogger, 08 May 2007. Web. 15 February 2015 <>.

Jenna. "Bleeding Hearts: A Japanese Legend." The Outspoken Yam. Wordpress, 13 May 2014. Web. 13 February 2015 <>.

Johnston, Annie Fellows. "The Legend of the Bleeding Heart." The Literature Network. Web. 13 February 2015 <>.

"Lamprocapnos." Wikipedia. Web. 13 February 2015 <>.

"Lamprocapnos spectabilis." Plant Finder. Missouri Botanical Garden. Web. 13 February 2015 <>.

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