Corydalis sempervirens

Pale Corydalis

Corydalis sermpervirens, Pale Corydalis, Photo © by Earl J.S. Rook
Pale Corydalis
Photo © by Earl J.S. Rook

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


  • Corydalis, from the Greek korudallis (korydallis), "crested lark", in reference to the shape of the flower resembling that of the bird's spur.
  • sempervirens, from the Latin, semper, "always", virens, "verdant, green"; hence, "evergreen".
  • Common name from the pale pink blossums.
  • Other common names include Rock Harlequin


  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
      • Class Magnoliopsida, the Dicotyledons
      • Subclass Magnoliidae
        • Order Papaverales
          • Family Fumariaceae, the Fumitories
            • Genus Corydalis, the Corydalis
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 19010
  • Also known as Capnoides sempervirens


  • A native, bienniel or annual forb, 8"-30" tall.
  • Flowers pink and yellow-tipped, perfect, with a single spur.
  • Leaves blue green, multilobed.
  • Fruit a simple, dry, dehiscent capsule with 25 seeds.


  • Identifiable by its distinctive pink and yellow flower and lobed, blue green foliage.
  • Field Marks
    • pink and yellow flower
    • lobed, blue green leaves


  • Alaska to Newfoundland, south to the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, north-central Midwest, and east to the Atlantic Coast down to Georgia.


  • Boreal forests, almost exclusively on disturbed areas.
  • Grows best in full light, on dry, gravelly soil, and in open to thin woods.
  • Climates with cold winters and cool summers.
  • A pioneer species in secondary succession, particularly after fires; it is generally present for 3 to 6 years following fire. Characterized by rapid invasion and growth, most commonly on dry soils of disturbed sites, frequently after fire. Hence, common near campsites, especially dry sunny exposures near the shore.


  • Favored by fire. Long lived, fire resistant seeds are stored in the soil and germinate following fire. Fire generally kills plant.
  • Grows quickly and rapidly takes up nutrients made available after fire.
  • Generally not found in areas that have not been recently burned, although seed may be present in the soil.
  • Requires fire to thrive. Since the species declines 3-5 years after fire, it is likely to become uncommon in areas where fires are suppressed.





  • Reproduces sexually. It will flower in either the first or second year.
  • Pollinated by wind or ants.


  • Propagates rather easily from seed.


  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
  • Cultural Requirements
    • Full sun
    • Prefers dry, acidic soils
  • Good for sunny rock garden
  • Generally not available commercially.



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Last Updated on 25 September, 2002