Corydalis nobilis

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Robert Pavlis

Carl Linnaeus, famous for developing the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature, received some incorrectly labeled seeds that turned out to be Corydalis nobilis. Decedents of these plants can still be found today in his preserved garden. In fact it is an early example of a non-native plant escaping from a garden and becoming naturalized in its new home. It is believed that all of the wild Corydalis nobilis growing in Finland and Sweden are escapees from Carl Linnaeus’ garden.

Corydalis nobilis, by Robert Pavlis
Corydalis nobilis, by Robert Pavlis

Corydalis nobilis, also called the Siberian corydalis, is a very special plant. It is one of the largest corydalis, and it is a reliable perennial in northern climates. Once established, which can take a couple of years; it is a reliable bloomer in the garden.

Corydalis nobilis, by Robert Pavlis
Corydalis nobilis, by Robert Pavlis

The flower is the main attraction partly because it is yellow and bright, but mostly because it has such an unusual shape. The inflorescence is very dense with up to 40 flowers. Each golden yellow flower has dark violet markings on top. Flowers last 2-3 weeks and have a spicy fragrance.

Corydalis nobilis, Robert Pavlis
Corydalis nobilis, by Robert Pavlis

By mid-summer, the leaves have all died back, and the plant has gone underground for a rest, allowing other later flowering plants to steal the show.

Soil Science for Gardeners book by Robert Pavlis

Corydalis nobilis

(kor-ID-ah-liss NO-bil-iss)

Life Cycle: perennial

Height: 60 cm (2 ft)

Bloom Time: spring

Natural Range: Siberia, Mongolia, China

Habitat: between shrubs, rocky ground, ravines

Synonyms:  none

 Cultivation of Corydalis nobilis:

Light: part shade to full sun

Soil: good drainage

Water: moist in spring, drier in summer

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 – 8

Propagation: seed sown immediately, division after flowering

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

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