Wednesday, April 10, 2019

My "national" corydalis...C. malkensis

Corydalis malkensis
If states can have state flowers, why can't we have our own personal "national" flowers? Although I grow quite a few corydalis, none have taken to my garden as much as this species, which is getting to be a tad much. Which I love!

I first obtained it from Kath Dryden, with whom I was exchanging seed and plants. I put out a half dozen or so at my first house on Eudora where they settled in and began seeding. And seeding. Some plants would make me nervous when they seed like that--not this one! Every seedling seemed to grow in a great spot, and pretty soon they made a veritable carpet of glistening ivory. And what a wonderful commemoration of the great English Plantwoman!

C. malkensis and Anemone blanda
When we moved to our current house twenty years ago, I dug a number of the bulbs (I have a hunch there are still more than ever in the original garden) and planted them in the shade of our newly planted Musclewood trees (Carpinus caroliniana) where they took off like the proverbial. And each year now they spread their bounty and show up further and further from the original spot they were put! They look especially fetching along with Anemone blanda and other blue flowered plants I think.

Here is that original colony taken a few days ago: it's YUGE! and getting huger. Should I be worried? Nah! These will completely disappear by the middle of May--and this spectacle in late March (they've been blooming for weeks) and April is so stunning--and they are so easily dug if need be (I've shared them with many friends) I'm not the least bit worried.

Corydalis incisa
And now for a slight change of subject, here's a picture I took a few weeks ago in friends' garden in Maryland: what a fine and delicate Corydalis THIS C. malkensis, it pops up early in the spring and blooms for weeks with bright color and delicate foliage. Unlike C. malkensis, however, I would regard this as definitely truly weedy and borderline invasive (it can't be put in the same class as Callery pears or cheatgrass however--the truly noxious weeds). I'd characterize this more as an ObNoxious little pest: so charming that the weak willed will leave it--and soon it will carpet much of their garden and the neighbors and show up down the street in a few years. C. malkensis spreads neither so far nor so quickly: you could easily eliminate it, while this winter annual could be a problem in moister climates. That said, I did bring a little tuft home (insert smiling emoticon)....

Another closeup of our little darling! Spread away dear!

And here you see the dangling seedpods getting ready to explode and expand the colony a bit: YAY!


  1. I have always loved corydalis, but none as much as this one!
    It's now on my 'Must Have' list!!! Thank you!

  2. What a beauty. I really have to try a little harder and get this one, My white C. solida just isn't as impressive!

  3. Anything ivory-flowered is my cup of tea. Here's an article from 2010 that's equally enthusiastic:

    After poking around for more information, I remain confused. Is this a species found in the wild, or did it originate in a garden, and if so where? 'chinensis' is from China, 'warleyensis' is from Warley (Ellen Willmott's garden), but 'malkensis' is...?

  4. Corydalis malkensis is unquestionably a wild species endemic to the northern Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkaria province), named for the river Malka.

    It is a unique and distinct specie unlike any other. First called caucasica 'Alba'--which is similar but deep purple.

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