Bulbous Corydalis species

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Tue, 09 Jun 2015 11:58:25 PDT
I have a number of bulbous Corydalis species and selections, some from 
Ruksans and a few given me long ago by Henrik Zetterlund. A few of them 
do self-sow, and I think the seedlings of a single clone are true, 
notably C. henrikii and C. schanginii ssp. ainae. I have read that the 
seeds have short viability so I just let them drop in the raised beds 
where they grow. However, I have raised a few species from stored seed; 
usually only one seed from a packet will germinate, and this is typical 
of short-lived seeds, which are always worth sowing even if they have 
that reputation.

Most of the Ruksans named forms are color selections of C. solida, and 
not all of them are really distinctive. They multiply quickly, as is 
typical of C. solida in gardens in this area (western Oregon). There is 
also a selection, I'm not sure if it's solida or a hybrid, called 'Beth 
Evans', which is widely available in garden centers now. It is smaller 
than typical C. solida and soft pink in flower, and multiplies very rapidly.

Some of the bulbous species do not multiply rapidly; I think a few of 
them don't offset or split at all, but rather the tubers (not bulbs) 
just get larger year by year. I used to keep them in plunged pots, but 
now I have them in raised beds and they immediately became much larger 
and more floriferous. Some kinds send out their stems horizontally below 
the soil surface; I was hoping they were forming offsets along the 
stems, but I haven't found any so far.

An interesting thing about Corydalis when you see them in the wild is 
the color variation within a population. On a recent trip to Azerbaijan 
and eastern Turkey, we had some discussions about whether we were seeing 
one or more species flowering in the alpine meadows, but I think it was 
just one, probably one close to C. oppositifolia.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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