In sync – Corydalis solida

Corydalis from the Greek ‘Korydalís’ meaning ‘crested lark’

Someone lucky enough to go hiking in the Carpathian Mountains in late April-early May would be surrounded by multicoloured masses of Corydalis solida – Fumewort (or ‘brebenei’ in my native tongue). There is a great variation in flower colour from white to pink and purple and actually the best forms of C. solida on the market today trace back their origins to Transsilvania (Romania) and Penza regions (western Russia).

This year, in sync, the ones from our garden are blooming at the same time:

Corydalis solida 'George Baker'

The renown Corydalis solida ‘George Baker’ (from Gardenimports – I am not really sure if it is the real thing but still a good red form)

Corydalis solida 'George Baker'3 An ephemeral at superlative – it appears fast, as soon as the temperature raises in the spring, and then disappears quietly after a few weeks. But for the brief time when it flowers, it will fill your heart with unconditional love for the years to come. The deeply divided ferny foliage and long spurred, tube-shaped flowers are equally adorable providing fast and easy the much needed burst of colours after our long winters.

C. solida purple

Corydalis solida – in its usual purple form (from Lost Horizons)

Corydalis solida

They also make for very good photo-subjects after rain

C. solida ‘Beth Evans’- is a large-flowered form, with pink flowers; slow to increase.  They are very delicate when in active growth; to be moved, mark their place and lift up the small tubers (bulb-like) as soon as they go dormant or in the fall.

Corydalis solida 'Beth Evans'

Corydalis solida ‘Beth Evans’ (from Fraser Thimble Farm)

Due to its ephemeral nature it is oferred mostly by specialized nurseries/mail-order operations. For part shade and moist conditions when in growth, then it prefers to remain on the dry side for the rest of the season. I particularly like them planted close to ferns or  japanese grasses where they fill in the space just perfectly in early spring. They interbreed easily and will seed around if happy forming multicoloured colonies.

Best not to be a purist when it comes to Corydalis solida!

This is just a small glimpse of the Corydalis solida world – there are many other named varieties. I already wrote about other wonderful Corydalis species – do not be afraid to become a corydaphill!

Note: If someone doesn’t know it, the absolut Corydalis guru and bulb expert is Janis Ruksans from Latvia – on-line catalogue here: Rare Bulbs
7 replies
    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      Thanks – I don’t know what to say; maybe reconsider where you plant them. Best close to some trees, shrubs or anything else that will use the ‘extra’ moisture from the soil when they are dormant.

  1. mrsdaffodil
    mrsdaffodil says:

    Oh, my! I think I will have to expand my corydalis collection. The only one I have is Corydalis scouleri–a native plant here in BC.

  2. Amy Olmsted
    Amy Olmsted says:

    I am also becoming obsessed with Corydalis solida! I sow seed from the exchanges and ordered a few from Odyssey Bulbs. It’s always an adventure!

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      I’ve never done any Corydalis from seeds. It’s the kind that you need fresh seed (or kept moist) but I’ll try it this year too, just for experimenting.

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