Corydalis solida

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Robert Pavlis

Corydalis solida, by Robert Pavlis

Corydalis solida is a great spring ephemeral that brings an unusual color to the garden at this time of year. How many of our spring flowers are red, pink or purplish red? Spread them around the garden between larger plants and enjoy them while the larger plants are still sleeping. By the time they grow to any size, C. solida will have gone underground for a summer snooze.

Corydalis solida, by Robert Pavlis
Corydalis solida, by Robert Pavlis

This plant is known by the common names; fumewort, spring corydalis, bird-in-a-bush and solid-tubered corydalis. It grows from a bulb, although many websites consider it to be a tuber. After the leaves die back the bulbs can be dug up and moved around the garden. The plant seems to do best if split on a regular basis and it will self- seed a bit but it never seems to be in the way and it can be easily pulled out if you don’t want it.

Spring corydalis is pollinated by the hairy-footed flower bee (Anthophora plumipes) which is native to Europe, Near East and North Africa but has been introduced into North America. The petals are arranged so that the flower is self-sterile, but the bee is able to transfer pollen from another flower when it visits to take a drink of nectar from the back of the spur. The flower is also visited by bumblebees which drink the nectar after biting a hole in the back of the flower.

Corydalis solida, by Robert Pavlis
Corydalis solida, by Robert Pavlis
Corydalis solida seeds, by Botany CA
Corydalis solida seeds, by Botany CA

Seeds are produced with an attached white elaisome which attracts ants. After eating the lipid and protein rich elaisome, the ants discard the seed helping with distribution around the garden. Seeds will produce a variety of colors and will not come true from named cultivars.

Food Science for Gardeners, by Robert Pavlis
Corydalis solida George Baker, by Robert Pavlis
Corydalis solida ‘George Baker’, by Robert Pavlis

Corydalis solida

(kor-ID-ah-liss  SOL-id-uh)

Life Cycle: perennial bulb

Height: 20 cm (9in)

Bloom Time: spring

Natural Range: Northern Europe, Asia

Habitat: woodlands and woodland edges

Synonyms: Corydalis halleri, Corydalis bulbosa

Cultivation of Corydalis solida

Light: part shade to full shade

Soil: humus rich soil

Water: medium to wet

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 – 8

Propagation: seed, division of bulbs

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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!

2 thoughts on “Corydalis solida”

  1. I love it. I threw the seeds among my Vinca and it looks really great coming up through. I’m trying to throw the white seeds under all my hellebores to set them off. You can’t have enough Corydalis.

    Reply
  2. My experience with Corydalis solida has not been good – it got loose from the border and is all over the lawn now.

    Reply

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