Pink or Pale Corydalis – Flowers

(Capnoides sempervirens)

Poppy family

(Corydalis glauca of Gray)

Flowers—Pink, with yellow tip, about 1/2 in. long, a few borne in a loose, terminal raceme. Calyx of 2 small sepals; corolla irregular, of 4 erect, closed, and flattened petals joined, 1 of outer pair with short rounded spur at base, the interior ones narrow and keeled on back. Stamens 6, in 2 sets, opposite outer petals; 1 pistil. Stem: Smooth, curved, branched, 1 to 2 feet high. Leaves : Pale grayish green, delicate, divided into variously and finely cut leaflets. Fruit: Very narrow, erect pod, 1 to 2 in. long.

Preferred Habitat—Rocky, rich, cool woods.

Flowering Season—April—September.

Distribution—Nova Scotia westward to Alaska, south to Minnesota and North Carolina.

Dainty little pink sacs, yellow at the mouth, hang upside down along a graceful stem, and instantly suggest the Dutch-man’s breeches, squirrel corn, bleeding heart, and climbing fumitory, to which the plant is next of kin. Because the lark (Korydalos) has a spur, the flower, which boasts a small one also, borrows its Greek name.

Hildebrand proved by patient experiments that some flowers of this genus have not only lost the power of self-fertilization, but that they produce fertile seed only when pollen from another plant is carried to them. Yet how difficult they make dining for their benefactors! The humblebee, which can reach the nectar, but not lap it conveniently, often ” gets square ” with the secretive blossom by nipping holes through its spur, to which the hive bees and others hasten for refreshment. We frequently find these punctured flowers. But hive and other bees visiting the blossom for pollen, some rubs off against their breast when they depress the two middle petals, a sort of sheath that contains pistil and stamens.