One of the most delightful blue flowering plants for any garden. It loves a cool moist area to grow in and when in full growth and flower is a real addition to the garden.
Although it does not look like it Corydalis belongs to the Papaveracae (Poppy) family. Its name Corydalis is derived from Greek ‘Korydalis’ meaning crested lark a reference to the flowers looking like a larks head. And flexuosa refers to the curved or wavy flower spur.
A native of Western China in Sichuan Province, it grows in woodland and mountain areas at about 300m high. Originally collected by Pere Armand David (i826-1900) who was a French Lazarist Missionary. It appears to be rediscovered in 1989 by 3 famous English plant explorers James Compton, John d’Arcy and Martin Rix. It has been reported growing with in 300m of the Giant Panda breeding compound (Glick 2000).
In spring and early summer it flowers in large clusters held above the foliage and in mass look spectacular. Bright, some say electric blue, two lipped flowers have white throats have long spurs at the back of the flowers increasing their size considerably. Below the flowers is beautiful and delicate foliage is roundly divided and green with a touch of blue grey.
A unique characteristic is that it is summer dormant or nearly so depending upon where it is growing. Sometimes described as a slow growing herbaceous perennial it shoots up from a rhizomatous root system in autumn and grows through winter to produces its flowers in spring. The leaves may be a dark red colour which may spread onto the base of the leaf.
It grows best in moist soils where it also gets some dappled shade. It loves humus and mulch. Used in under planting of shrubs it makes a great flowering groundcover. Associated with Rhododendrons is perfect and will cover an area up to 0.5metres across.
It is easy to propagate by division and has no pest and disease problems. As with many plants that are widespread and sought after by plant collectors and gardeners a number of cultivars have been named due to their slightly different form.
‘Pere David’ named after the original discoverer, is a faster spreading form ‘Blue Panda’ is compact and free flowering ‘Purple Leaf’ has a large red/purple blotch on the leaves where the stem and leaf meet. ‘Blackberry Wine’ is described as having pink flowers with a white throat. ‘Blue Dragon’ grows in a compact mound.