Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wild Flower Wednesday: Golden Fumitory

Corydalis aurea - a fumitory
Alberta's two species of fumitory (Fumariaceae), Corydalis aura (Golden Corydalis) and C. sempervirens (Pink Corydalis), are attractive if ephemeral delights. Unlike the 'perennial' commercial varieties, both Alberta natives are biennials. 'Corydalis' is from the Greek for a lark - usually credited to the Crested Lark. 'Cory' also means 'helmet', so the bird name probably derives from the prominent crest and the fancied resembles of the flower to the lark's head, well, from fancy.
Golden Lark's Head anyone?
Golden Corydalis is easy to miss in its first year, but the fern-like leaves are attractive. I suspect that 'fumitory' comes from the fancied resemblance of of the finely divided, greyish green leaves of the related Earth Smoke (Fumaria officials) to smoke, but Wikipedia claims the origin of the name is uncertain. Since Pink Corydalis is common after wildfires, perhaps the 'fume' refers to a similar habitat preference in Fumaria. The 'perennial' commercial species have larger and more showy flowers, and the pale blue varieties are especially attractive, but we've had no luck with ours surviving the Zone 3 winters.

1 comment:

  1. Just noticed some here 4.16.15. Bleeding heart does well but like you other corydalis exotics have failed for me.