Corydalis crystallina Engelm.

Corydalis crystallina plant

Family - Fumariaceae

Stems - From a thick taproot, multiple from base, erect, herbaceous, to +17cm tall, typically simple, hollow, angled, glabrous.

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate, glabrous, pinnately divided. The base of the petiole decurrent onto the stem. Leaves to +6cm long (including the petiole), +/-2cm broad. Pinnae alternate, divided again. Ultimate divisions rounded to subacute, silvery-green below, green above, oblanceolate to elliptic.

Corydalis crystallina leaves

Inflorescence - Terminal bracteate raceme, compact in flower, elongating in fruit to +10cm. Each flower subtended by a single ovate bract. Bracts to +6mm long, 4mm broad, acute, entire. Pedicels to 2mm long in flower, elongating slightly in fruit to +/-3mm, erect, glabrous, glaucous.

Flowers - Perianth yellow, to 2cm long. Lower petal 1.1cm long, expanded at apex, glabrous. Margins wavy to erose at the apex. Upper petal to 2cm long, with gibbous base, (base slightly curved downward), expanded at the apex, with a dorsal keel and slightly erose margins. Lateral petals to 4mm long, glabrous, connate at the apex and surrounding pistil and staminal fascicles. Stamens in fascicles, adnate to upper petal near point of attachment to pedicel, upper and lower staminal fascicles surrounding pistil. Filaments united until near their apices and then becoming 3-lobed, glabrous, with nectariferous basal spurs which empty into petal spur. Anthers pale yellow, .5mm long. Anther connective keeled, scarious, 6mm long. Ovary 4-5mm long, 1.1mm in diameter, mealy. Placentation parietal. Style green, 3-4mm long, glabrous. Stigma green, 2-lobed, each lobe with small protuberances. Sepals 2, +/-2mm long, green, bract-like, fugacious. Fruit sericeous and mealy, with persistent style, erect. Seeds few, tuberculate.

Corydalis crystallina flower

Corydalis crystallina flower

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Glades, prairies, open rocky ground.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This is an attractive plant which can be found in the western 1/3 of the state and mostly south of the Missouri River. This species is easily distinguished from others in the genus by its mealy fruits. The flowers of this genus (and family) are very interesting morphologically and can be difficult to interpret at first.

Photographs taken at Lichen Glade, St. Clair County, MO., 4-3-04.


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