Corydalis lutea
Common Name: corydalis 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Papaveraceae
Native Range: Europe
Zone: 5 to 7
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to September
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Heavy Shade


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. Prefers rich, moist soils that never dry out in part shade, however drainage must be good and incorporating gravel into the soil may benefit a planting. Wet soils in winter can be fatal. Generally intolerant of hot and humid summer conditions and does not grow well in the deep South. May aggressively self-seed in the garden in optimum growing conditions. If foliage significantly depreciates in hot summers, plants may be cut back to basal leaves.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Corydalis lutea, commonly called yellow fumitory or yellow corydalis, is a woodland perennial which typically forms a mound of ferny, medium green foliage to 15" tall and 18" wide and produces bright yellow, short-spurred flowers (3/4" long) in axillary racemes over a long May to September bloom period. Leaves are 2 or 3 pinnate with distinctive 3-lobed leaflets and resemble those of bleeding heart (Dicentra) to which it is related. This plant is much more vigorous in the British Isles (a cooler climate with low humidity) where it apparently grows like a weed.

Genus name comes from the Greek word korydalis meaning lark in reference to the resemblance of the plant’s floral spurs to the spurs of some larks.

Specific epithet means yellowish.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Shaded rock gardens or border fronts. Forms a nice ground cover in shady woodland areas. Considered a classic cottage garden plant. Naturalized areas. A good plant for wall pockets in cool summer climates, but probably not in the St. Louis area.