Plant of the Month for May, 2017

Corydalis solida header
Corydalis solida

 (kor-ID-ah-liss  SOL-id-uh)

General Information:

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:photo 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. 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. It has also 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:photo by Robert Pavlis

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.

Corydalis solida 'George Baker' by Robert Pavlis

Corydalis solida 'George Baker':photo by Robert Pavlis

(Comment from ORG&HPS website administrator... There is also a vibrant deep purple cultivar called 'Purple Bird'.  See its photo posted March 30 on Facebook)

Life Cycle: perennial bulb

Height: 20 cm (9in)

Bloom Time: spring

Natural Range: Northern Europe, Asia

Habitat: woodlands and woodland edges

SynonymsCorydalis halleri, Corydalis bulbosa


Light: part shade to full shade

Soil: humus rich soil

Water: medium to wet

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 - 8

Propagation: seed, division of bulbs

Seedex availability (ORG&HPS annual Seed Exchange): frequently


Sow immediately. The viability of these seeds is short or the species propagates best with fresh seed. Stored seed might be coaxed into germination with temperature cycling and patience.
Sow @ 20°C for 6 weeks, then place @ 4°C for 6 weeks, then slowly raise temperature to 10°C for 6 weeks. If there is no germination, repeat the cycle. This mimics fall sowing outdoors for spring germination.
allow to remain in same pot for 1st year
Robert Pavlis