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Noble-flowered Birthwort

Corydalis nobilis

  • Name also: Siberian Corydalis
  • Family: Poppy Family – Papaveraceae
    (formerly Fumitory Family – Fumariaceae)
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Rootstock thick, lobed.
  • Height: 40–60 cm (16–25 in.). With many stems, stem erect, abundantly branched.
  • Flower: Corolla irregular (zygomorphic), flecked yellow and white, approx. 20 mm (0.8 in.) long; petals 4, of which two inner petals partly united, uppermost petal spurred, spur 6–8 mm (0.24–0.32 in.) long. Sepals 2, with toothed margins, soon falling. Stamens 6 in 2 groups, each with 1 whole and 2 half stamens. Gynoecium composed of 2 fused carpels. Inflorescence a compact, 20–35-flowered raceme. Subtending bracts large, lowest like stem leaves.
  • Leaves: Alternate, stalked. Blade 2–3 times pinnately lobed–pinnate, leaflets narrow, bluish green.
  • Fruit: Resembling a siliqua, quite lanceolate, flat, 15–20 mm (0.6–0.8 in.) long capsule. Seeds black with white elaiosome.
  • Habitat: Yards, parks, banks, waste ground. Escape from cultivation.
  • Flowering time: May–June.

Noble-flowered birthwort has settled in well to Finnish broad-leaved forests and old inhabited areas so well that one wouldn’t guess that it is an old parsonage ornamental. It is native to far-off central Asia and the slopes of the Altai Mountains. Carl von Linné himself sowed the species’ seeds in the garden of his manor house in Hammarby in the 18th century, and this is claimed to be the mother stand for the whole current Swedish and Finnish population. The foothills of Siberia apparently have a sufficiently close climate to southern Finland: there is the harsh cold of the north, but due to the proximity of the sea it is sometimes mild in winter and cool in summer.

Average and extreme temperatures and precipitation and the rhythm of the seasons, along with other climatic factors, play a large role in determining what plants from all over the world thrive in Finland. Noble-flowered birthwort only grows in Finland in the lushest south-western broad-leaved forests and gardens, although in some places it has even become a weed on park lawns. The species flowers early in the spring while the land is still wet from the winter, and it brings an impressive verdancy to its habitat as its yellowish white flowers attract an endless host of buzzing insects – but it doesn’t last long. Noble-flowered birthwort goes through its entire cycle in as little as a week and withers as other vegetation is just getting going. It retires down under ground to its tubers and settles down to await the following spring.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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