University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial of the Month - July 1999

Corydalis lutea

(core-ee-dal' iss lu' tee-ah)

Common name: Corydalis

Family: Fumariaceae, Fumitory

Height x Width: 9-15" tall x 18-24" wide

Growth Rate: moderate

Foliage: Finely divided, fern-like, pale blue-green, long wiry petioles, pinnately compound.

Flowers: 4-petaled, golden, irregular, tubular shape, similar to bleeding heart (Dicentra) flowers; axillary in 6-16 flowered racemes; late spring, successively into summer in north

Hardiness: zones 4-7

Soil: well-drained, gravelly, slightly alkaline, moist (not wet) preferred but tolerates dry.

Light: Full sun to partial shade.

Pests & Problems: none serious

Landscape Habit, Uses: Rock garden-actually grown in stone walls in England. It can also be used in the shade garden, or fronts of borders in part shade. It self-seeds prolifically.

Other Interest: Corydalis is considered a weed in Great Britain. It is native to southeastern Europe and has escaped cultivation in other areas of Europe. Corydalis grows much better in Great Britain than it does in much of North America, but it does grow well in New England. The genus is named for the Greek korydalis, crested lark, referring to the flower shape's resemblance to the lark's head.

Other Culture: Corydalis grows best in partial shade in slightly alkaline soil. It really likes to be planted around rocks.

Propagation: Since it is difficult to transplant, it is best to propagate Corydalis by seed. Unfortunately, as easy as it seems to seed itself in nature, it is difficult to germinate under controlled conditions because of complex dormancy requirements. It must undergo both warm and cold stratifications.

Sources: many, including local perennial nurseries and garden centers, and online catalogs as well

(This information co-authored by Rebecca Slater.)

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