Friday, January 13, 2012

Native Plant of the Week: Pale Corydalis ~ Corydalis sempervirens

Pale Corydalis (Rock Harlequin) ~ Corydalis sempervirens

Pale Corydalis is a very attractive biennial native. I saw a large cluster of these growing this spring in late May in central Ontario. Growing in shallow soils on top of the Canadian shield granite bedrock, most plants reached heights close to 3 feet tall.

Pale Corydalis is in the Fumitory family (Fumariaceae) along with other great natives - Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) and a beautiful biennial vine Climbing Fumitory, (Adlumia fungosa). Fumitory plants have interesting four parted flowers, often fused into a tube or spurred.

The flowers of Pale Corydalis have one spurred petal, and are bright pink with yellow tips. They are arranged in showy clusters above the light blue-green foliage.
The leaves are pinnately divided with smooth edges. Since this is a biennial, first year plants are basal rosettes, and in the second year the plant flowers.

You will find this native in partial and full sun locations, most often in shallow, dry soils. It is native to northeastern North America. See map below for range.

Image Source: USDA Plants Database