Recognize the wonder plant pictured above? It is Corydalis lutea, also known as Corydalis or Yellow Fumitory. Research from the Internet says it is a short lived perennial wildflower native to Europe. It is hardy in Zones 5-8, needs some shade and would prefer moisture, but like my toad lilies and turtlehead; I have not added any additional water to the corydalis. This is one of the plants growing in my Woodland Garden. Since I posted on my woodland garden yesterday, I thought it be appropriate to showcase the corydalis here today.
I have grown this perennial for six years now. I knew nothing of it when I first planted it back in 2003. In 2004 this perennial bloomed from May to October. I just adored it. See the gray foliage? It is a nice foil for the dainty yellow flowers.
Research from the Internet says corydalis is poisonous to horses. So do use caution if you grow corydalis lutea and make sure no horses can get a nibble of the flowers or leaves. Another note on this little flower, I have not noticed a fragrance from either the foliage or the flowers.
The corydalis continued to bloom non-stop during each growing season from 2003 until the dreaded gardening year of 2007. That year will live among all gardeners as probably the worst gardening year ever. The freeze did not bother little plant, it was the drought. This plant lived for about half of the summer then disappeared. I thought I had finally lost it and began looking around for a replacement. Sadly I could not find one anywhere. No one had ever even heard of it. Just go to a plant nursery and ask for Corydalis. They'll say "What?!" Then when you say and spell it out C-O-R-Y-D-A-L-I-S for them, they'll still say "What?!" Then they'll go to their catalogs and computer terminals and look it up, shaking their heads that such a plant exists. Lucky are you to find a nurseryman who even knows what it is or has it in stock. I know this from experience, at least in my part of the world. Perhaps I am going to the wrong nurseries but I would think all nurseries would take pains to stock good plants for the garden, and this one fits the bill in my book.
This past year I noticed some seedlings had sprung up. The corydalis is reputed to self seed but I had not seen any in the previous years when it had grown in my garden. I must've had half a dozen seedlings! I am thinking that the one plant that died out in 2007 set some good viable seed and conditions were just right for several of the seeds to sprout last spring. I am very happy corydalis is still hanging around here in my garden. It is truly a great little plant with some neat survival mechanisms in place. Such a good thing for me....
in the garden....
This article was originally published in the Middle Tennessee's Perennial Plant Society's Quarterly Newsletter in November 2008.