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Corydalis sempervirens (Rock harlequin)
Cressler, Alan

Corydalis sempervirens

Corydalis sempervirens (L.) Pers.

Rock Harlequin

Fumariaceae (Fumitory Family)

Synonym(s): Capnoides sempervirens

USDA Symbol: COSE5

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N)

Rock-harlequin or pale corydalis is a delicate, lacy, 12-32 in. biennial with compound leaves divided into many lobes. During its first summer the only foliage is a basal rosette, but in its second year the plant sends up many branched stems, each tipped with bunches of pink and yellow, uniquely tubular flowers. Drooping, sac-like, tubular, pink and yellow flowers in clusters at ends of branched stems bearing intricately divided leaves. The flowers give way to long, narrow seed pods.

The delicate, dangling flowers and bluish-green foliage distinguish this corydalis. A number of other yellow-flowered species occur in eastern North America. Golden Corydalis (C. micrantha), a winter annual or biennial found in fields or along roadsides, has long-spurred flowers about 1/2" (1.5 cm) long and highly divided leaves. A smaller species, Yellow Harlequin (C. flavula), has flowers less than 1/2" (1.5 cm) long and a very short spur. Climbing Fumitory or Allegheny Vine (Adlumia fungosa) is a closely related woodland vine that climbs to 10' (3 m); it has similar foliage and pink flowers very like those of Tall Corydalis and occurs most frequently in the Allegheny Mountains.


From the Image Gallery

9 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 32 inches tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Yellow , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AK , CT , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MT , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , NT , NU , ON , PE , QC , SK , YT
Native Distribution: Canada and the eastern US as far south as north Georgia and west to Minnnesota; also northwestern Montana.
Native Habitat: Dry woods; rocky ledges; recent clearings

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Poor, dry, gravelly soil.
Conditions Comments: Pale corydalis can become weedy.


Use Medicinal: Some Corydalis species have sedative and pain-killing compounds, but many also contain toxic alkaloids. (Kershaw)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: Easily propagated from seed sown as soon as ripe. Division is another method of increase.
Commercially Avail: yes

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Corydalis sempervirens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Corydalis sempervirens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Corydalis sempervirens


Record Modified: 2023-02-01
Research By: TWC Staff

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