Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Ferny Corydalis
Corydalis cheilanthifolia

Family: Fumariaceae (foo-mar-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Corydalis (kor-ID-ah-liss) (Info)
Species: cheilanthifolia (ky-lan-thee-FOH-lee-a) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

9 members have or want this plant for trade.


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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3 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral coriaceous On Nov 27, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The foliage is very attractive, and would be reason enough to grow it. But I grew this for several years without seeing any flowers. That didn't stop it from self-sowing. I've since read that in shady situations, when stressed, or late in the season, it produces inconspicuous flowers that self-fertilize in bud without ever opening.

It is taprooted, but I didn't find it difficult to transplant in the spring after cutting back the foliage.

This is one of the few corydalis whose seeds survive long-term storage. They also remain viable in the soil for at least several years.

Plants in commerce are commonly misidentified.

Positive sallyg On May 10, 2013, sallyg from Anne Arundel,, MD (Zone 7b) wrote:

For two years it has lived in my partly shaded bed of natives, and looked beautiful. So far it does not seem to self sow much here. (C. lutea can self sow a lot here). I was trying to collect seeds today and found that tiny ants were in among the seed pods, and each carrying a seed away.

Negative SunnyBorders On Jan 2, 2009, SunnyBorders from Aurora, ON (Zone 5a) wrote:

I planted one Corydalis cheilanthifolia plant, about 4 or 5 years ago, in my garden (zone 5A) in a relatively shaded and moist location, but soon felt it seeded around too much. The plants are easy to remove, but I have been pulling up C. cheilanthifolia offspring of that one plant ever since.

I have, over numbers of years, used Corydalis lutea (also yellow flowered) for relatively shaded areas. The foliage may not be quite as attractive as that of C. cheilanthifolia, but C. lutea has a phenomenally long bloom time (May to September). It certainly also seeds around, especially with moisture, but the plant with its fleshy root is extremely easy to pull up.

I also have spring flowering purple Corydalis solida in the same location. It's spread has been quite minimal compared to that of C. lutea, but it was pointed out to me that because C. solida grows from a corm (and not a fleshy root), C. solida plants could be difficult to get rid of.

I was given some white (and yellow lipped) Corydalis ochroleuca in Victoria, Vancouver Island (zone 8b), this June 2008. The spread and ease with which an excess of it could be removed, in the garden in Victoria, really brought our C. lutea to mind. I am hoping that winter does not take it upon itself to remove the new C. ochroleuca from my garden!

Positive altagardener On Mar 7, 2008, altagardener from Calgary, AB (Zone 3b) wrote:

Hardy in zone 3; very early to bloom.

Positive lupinelover On May 6, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

The leaves on this plant change color through the year. Newly emerging leaves are bronze, change to green, then become silver-green in the fall. Flower stalks grow on separate stems from the leaves, and they are held slightly higher than the leaves. Flowers are yellow, tubular, and attractive to bees and ants.

Everyone who has seen this plant in my garden wants it.

Seed very easy to collect. Allow the pods to dry before harvesting. Ripe seed is black, unripe seed is white, making it easy to distinguish. Each flower forms a seed pod, with 20-30 seeds per pod. Does not require cold stratification to germinate.

As with many corydalis, this does not transplant well. The best way is to grow it from seed directly sown where it is to grow. It accepts transplanting if grown in cell packs, but may take an extra year or two to fully establish.

Neutral Joy On Oct 13, 2001, Joy from Kalama, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This Corydalis has lacy fern like foliage and yellow flowers.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Millersville, Maryland
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hilton, New York
Peconic, New York
Southold, New York
Lansdowne, Pennsylvania
Kalama, Washington

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