Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Corydalis DC., nom. cons.

Herbs, usually perennial, erect, decumbent or diffuse, glabrous, glaucous or subglabrous; rootstock rhizomatous, tuberous or bulbous. Leaves often with a radical whorl and mostly with many cauline leaves, alternate or often cauline ones opposite, 1 - 3 pinnatisect or (1-) 2 - 3 (-4) ternatisect; basal and lower cauline leaves usually petiolate and sheathing at base. Inflorescence terminal, simple or branched racemes or sometimes condensed subumbellate, often elongating and becoming lax in fruit. Flowers bracteate, pedicellate, zygomorphic with upper petal usually spurred, mostly yellow or purplish, rarely pink, blue or bluish violet, or very rarely white. Sepals 2, small, scarious or white-membranous, caducous. Petals 4; outer pair dissimilar, with upper (posterior) one spurred or gibbous at base or below and lower (anterior) one flat or concave at base, smaller and more or less equalling lamina of upper petal, both often winged at back and expanded at margins; inner pair clawed, often cohering, narrower than and about as long as lower petal. Stamens 6 in 2 bundles of 3 each; upper bundle with a basal tail-like nectariferous gland projecting into and adnate to petal spur; anthers dimorphous with midanthers of each bundle dithecous and lateral ones monothecous. Ovary 1-loculed, usually many-ovuled; style filiform with 2, often dilated stigmas, becoming curved at tip. Capsules ovoid, oblong, elliptic or linear, dehiscing when ripe by somewhat membranous tumid or inflated valves, falling apart and leaving seed-bearing placentae attached to style; seeds suborbicular or reniform, sometimes arillate, usually shiny black.

Northern temperate regions, mostly Eurasian; about 300 species, 53 species in India.

Literature. BRUCKNER, C. (1985) Zur Samenmorphologie in Cotydalis Vent. (Fumariaceae DC.). Gelditschia 13: 53 - 67. LIDEN, M. (1989) Corydalis (Papaveraceae: Fumarioideae) in Nepal. Bull. Brit. Mus. (Nat. Hist.) Botany 18: 479 - 538, ff. 1 - 26. LONG, D.G. (1984) Notes relating to the flora of Bhutan IX. Notes R. Bot. Gard. Edinb. 42: 87 - 106. LUDLOW, F. & W. T. STERN (1975) New Himalayan and Tibetan species of Corydalis. Bull. Brit. Mus. (Nat. Hist.) Botany 5: 47 - 69, ff. 1 - 14, tt. 1 - 15.

Notes. A very complex genus showing a high degree of variability. Species delimi-tation has always caused considerable hurdles for taxonomists. Only a comprehensive worldwide revision with sufficient field observations in the entire range of the genus can produce a satisfactory account.

Corydalis DC. in Lam. & DC., Fl. France ed. 3, 4: 637. 1805 has been conserved against Medikus 1789 and Ventenant (1803).


1a. Flowers with blue, pink or purple as main colour 2
b. Flowers with yellow or rarely orange or white as main colour 11
2a. Spur shorter than limb of upper petal 3
b. Spur equal to or longer than limb of upper petal 5
3a. Plants 50 - 130 cm high, stiff, erect; capsules linear, 20 - 30 mm long; racemes 8 - 20-flowered, overtop-ping leaves 25. Corydalis flaccida
b. Plants less than 30 cm high, slender, flexuous; capsules obovoid, 6 - 10 mm long; racemes 2 - 10-flowered, not overtopping leaves 4
4a. Plants with greyish-purple hue; ultimate lobes of leaves obovate, obtuse; flowers spongy; spur 1.5 - 3 x 2-3.5 mm,broader than long 34. Corydalis latiflora
b. Plants without greyish-purple hue; ultimate lobes of leaves narrow, acute; flowers not spongy; spur 4.5 - 8 x 2 - 3 mm,longer than broad 38. Corydalis nana
5a. Cauline leaves 2 - 4 or more 6
b. Cauline leaves solitary or rarely 2 or absent 9
6a. Flowers 22 - 28 mm long; sepals minute, less than 0.5 mm long 7
b. Flowers 15 - 20 mm long; sepals larger, 1 - 2 mm long 8
7a. Plants decumbent, branched; roots fibrous; leaves biternate with crenately lobed segments; bracts 6 - 10 mm long, lower ones toothed; pedicels 5 - 8 mm long; upper petal distinctly crested; capsules linear, up to 35 mm long 35. Corydalis leptocarpa
b. Plants erect, scarcely branched; roots tuberous; leaves triternate witb entire segments; bracts 3 - 6 mm long, entire; pedicels 1 - 3 mm long; upper petal narrowly crested at apex; capsules ellipsoid, up to 15 mm long 16. Corydalis dorjii
8a. Radical leaves absent; cauline leaves 2, usually opposite; pedicels ca 10 mm long; petals pink with purplish face 15. Corydalis diphylla
b. Radical leaves present; cauline leaves 2 - 4, alternate, scattered; pedicels 3 - 5 mm long; petals blue violet or white 2. Corydalis alpestris
9a. Radical leaves absent; bracts entire 52. Corydalis trifoliata
b. Radical leaves present; bracts divided 10
10a. Roots fibrous; cauline leaf on 5 - 10 mm long petioles; lip of lower petal boat-shaped 39. Corydalis oligantha
b. Roots tuberous; cauline leaf sessile; lip of lower petal broad, almost flat 5. Corydalis cashmeriana
11a. Cauline leaves 1 - 3, verticillate at apex of stem below inflorescence, simple, reniform or suborbicular, somewhat shortly dissected or dentate, fleshy 12. Corydalis crassifolia
b. Cauline leaves not so, not fleshy 12
12a. Bracts all entire 13
b. Bracts at least some, dissected, dentate, laciniate, lobed or leafy 22
13a. Stems simple, unbranched 14
b. Stems usually branched 16
14a. Tuberous storage roots present; cauline leaves alternate, simple 31. Corydalis juncea
b. Tuberous storage roots absent; cauline leaves opposite or subopposite, lobed or pinnate 15
15a. Cauline leaves 4, in 2 subopposite pairs; bracts 5 - 10 mm broad; flowers yellow without purplish tips 10. Corydalis clarkei
b. Cauline leaves 0 - 2, opposite or subopposite; bracts 2 - 5 mm broad; flowers pale yellow with purplish tips 14. Corydalis crithmifolia
16a. Plants robust, stout, 50 - 130 cm high 17
b. Plants slender, up to 50 cm high 20
17a. Capsules strongly undulate-tortuous 40. Corydalis ophiocarpa
b. Capsules not undulate-tortuous 18
18a. Leaves simple pinnate with flabellate-reniform pinnae; spur saccate or gibbous; capsules pendulous, linear 24. Corydalis flabellata
b. Leaves pinnate, bipinnate or tripinnate; pinnae not flabellate or reniform; spur long slender; capsules erect, obovoid or narrowly oblanceolate 19
19a. Flowers pale or golden yellow with brownish veins; corolla including spur 16 - 20 mm long; spur 8 - 9 mm long; capsules ellipsoid-obovoid, ca 8 mm long, 2 - 5-seeded 8. Corydalis chaerophylla
b. Flowers orange-brown; corolla including spur 20 - 25 mm long; spur 14 - 15 mm long; capsules narrowly oblanceolate, 9 - 13 mm long, 8 - 10-seeded 3. Corydalis borii
20a. Pedicels 5 - 20 mm long; bracts shorter than pedicels; racemes 3 - 8-flowered 33. Corydalis lathyroides
b. Pedicels up to 5 mm long; bracts exceeding pedicels; racemes more than 10-flowered 21
21a. Leaves simply pinnate; pinnae fan-shaped, ovate to suborbicular; capsules sometimes dimorphic 1. Corydalis adiantifolia
b. Leaves 2 - 3 pinnatisect; pinnae elongated, much dissected with ovate to sublinear segments; capsules never dimorphic 49. Corydalis stricta
22a. Cauline leaves absent, or if present 1 or 2 and highly reduced 23
b. Cauline leaves present, well-developed 24
23a. Racemes 10 - 15-flowered, 10 - 14 cm long, visible above and exceeding radical leaves 43. Corydalis pseudocrithmifolia
b. Racemes 3 - 10-flowered, 8 - 10 cm long, hardly exceeding radical leaves 50. Corydalis tibetica
24a. Plants 60 - 130 cm high; upper petal without crest on back 26. Corydalis geraniifolia
b. Plants less than 60 cm high; upper petal usually crested on back, rarely minutely so 25
25a. Stems zig-zag at nodes; leaves 3 - 4 times ternate; ultimate lobes less than 1 mm broad 45. Corydalis shakyae
b. Stems not zig-zag at nodes; leaves 2 - 3 times pinnate; ultimate lobes more than 1 mm broad 26
26a. Cauline leaves usually 2, opposite, rarely 1 or 3, opposite or subopposite 27
b. Cauline leaves usually several, alternate 29
27a. Plants small, cushion-forming, less than 8 cm high; racemes 3 - 10-flowered 29. Corydalis hendersonii
b. Plants not cushion-forming, more than 10 cm high; racemes 10 - 40-flowered 28
28a. Bracts wedge-shaped or oblong. pectinate-incised, 8 - 20 mm wide; flowers 20 - 25 mm long; spur conical, straight or slightly curved downwards 28. Corydalis govaniana
b. Bracts not wedge-shaped, linear-lanceolate, entire or lower ones dissected, 2 - 5 mm wide; flowers 12 - 18 mm long; spur cylindrical, slightly hooked at apex 21. Corydalis falconeri
29a. Leaves primarily temately divided and subdivided into equal or unequal pinnately or temately subdivided leaflets 30
b. Leaves primarily pinnately divided and subdivided into equal or unequal pinnately subdivided leaflets 41
30a. Erect robust little-branched herbs, up to 60 cm high; roots numerous, densely fascicled 32. Corydalis laelia
b. Diffuse or suberect weak much-branched herbs, mostly less than 50 cm high; rootstock a simple rhizome, not consisting of fascicled roots 31
31a. Rootstock almost absent or very short, with a taproot and branched roots; capsules subtorulose 47. Corydalis stewartii
b. Rootstock present, long, slender or thickened, fusiform, often branched and covered with sheathing withered leaf-bases; capsules not torulose 32
32a. Terminal leaflet usually larger than lateral ones; racemes rounded, densely flowered 33
b. Terminal leaflets similar to lateral ones; racemes elongated, laxly flowered 34
33a. Leaf segments obovate, mucronate; racemes 10 - 20-flowered; bracts equal to pedicels; crests of outer petals not projecting beyond lips 13. Corydalis crispa
b. Leaf segments linear-lanceolate, acute; racemes 6 - 12-flowered; upper bracts longer than pedicels; crests of outer petals projecting beyond lips 17. Corydalis drepanantha
34a. Lower petal not spurred, nor gibbous or pouched at base 35
b. Lower petal with 8 short broad spur or basal pouch or gibbous at base 38
35a. Tuberous storage roots present on short rhizome; stem leafless towards underground Portion; basal rosette of withered leaf sheaths and scales absent; cauline leaves 1 - 3; capsules obovoid-oblong, 5 - 8 mm long,2 - 3 mm thick 42. Corydalis polygalina
b. Tuberous storage roots absent; stem originating from a basal rosette of withered leaf-sheath bases and scales; cauline leaves usually more than 3; capsules linear, 8 -15 mm long, ca 1 mm thick 36
36a. Racemes 1.5 - 3 cm long; flowers ca 1 cm or less long; sepals less than 1 mm across; nectariferous gland coherent entirely to spur wall, not upcurved at apex 6. Corydalis cashmeriana
b. Racemes 3 - 7 cm long; flowers ca 1.5 cm or more long; sepals ca 2 mm across; nectariferous gland coherent partially to wall, upcurved at apex 37
37a. Pedicels much longer than bracts; upper petal acute; spur as long as limb 22. Corydalis filicina
b. Pedicels as long as or shorter than bracts; upper petal with a broad blunt crest; spur shorter than limb 7. Corydalis cavei
38a. Densely tufted cushion-forming herbs, 2 - 5 cm high; radical leaves ca 1 cm long; bracts large, exceeding flowers; capsules 2-seeded 37. Corydalis mucronifera
b. Erect or diffuse herbs, not cushion-forming; radical leaves, if present, longer; bracts not exceeding flowers, usually smaller than pedicels; capsules 8 - 18 -seeded 39
39a. Crest of upper petal extending only up to tip of spur; lower petal with a short spur at base; nectariferous gland two-third to three-fourth the length of spur 9. Corydalis changuensis
b. Crest of upper petal extending only up to half the length of spur; lower petal with a short pouch at base; nectariferous gland up to half the length of spur 40
40a. Plants bluish green; sepals large, deeply fimbriate, 2 - 3 x 1.5 - 2 mm; spur 9 - 10 mm long; nectariferous gland more than 2.5 mm long, partly without a median constriction 23. Corydalis filiformis
b. Plants not bluish green; sepals small, minutely divided or entire, ca 1 mm across; spur 5 - 6 mm long; nectariferous gland less than 1 mm long, not fused with spur; lower petal with a median constriction 44. Corydalis pseudolongipes
41a. Pedicels much longer than or almost double the length of bracts 22. Corydalis filicina
b. Pedicels almost equal to or shorter than bracts 42
42a. Spur of upper petal shorter or much shorter than limb 43
b. Spur of upper petal equal to or longer than limb 45
43a. Stems ascending, branched; racemes lax; pedicels 2 - 8 mm long; seeds minutely papillate 48. Corydalis stracheyi
b. Stems erect, not or slightly branched; pedicels 10 - 15 mm long; racemes dense; seeds smooth 44
44a. Robust herbs; basal leaf remnants with persistent fibres; racemes 12 - 35-flowered; upper petal 12 - 13 mm long; spur 1.5 - 5 mm long 36. Corydalis meifolia
b. Weak herbs; basal leaf remnants membranous; racemes 5 - 15-flowered; upper petal 15 - 19 mm long; spur 6 - 8 mm long 46. Corydalis sikkimensis
45a. Leaves rather thick, crisped; ultimate segments of leaves linear, less than 1 mm wide; pedicels 10 - 13 mm long; seeds minutely papillate 18. Corydalis dubia
b. Leaves thin, not crisped; ultimate segments of leaves oblanceolate to lanceolate, more than 1 mm wide; pedicels 2 - 12 mm long 46
46a. Leaves 1-pinnate; leaflets lobed, pinnatisect or ternatisect 47
b. Leaves mainly 2 - 3 pinnate; leaflets lobed, pinnatisect or ternatisect 49
47a. Leaves laciniate; ultimate segments white mucronate at apex; flowers ca 8 mm long; upper petal faintly crested; capsules up to 5 mm long 4. Corydalis boweri
b. Leaflets deeply lobed; ultimate segments obtuse or acute, not white mucronate; flowers more than 14 mm long; upper petal distinctly crested; capsules 8 - 16 mm long 48
48a. Rootstock with a rosette of scales and withered sheathing leaf bases at apex; ultimate segments of leaflets obtuse; flowers 20 - 22 mm long; capsules obovoid, 13 - 16 mm long 20. Corydalis elegans
b. Rootstock without such scales; ultimate segments of leaflets acute; flowers 14 - 16 mm long; capsules oblong, 8 - 10 mm long 30. Corydalis hookeri
49a. Plants tufted, up to 14 cm high; stems absent or very much shortened, unbranched 19. Corydalis duthiei
b. Plants diffuse, 15 - 60 cm high; stems present, elongated, usually branched 50
50a. Rootstock spindle-Shaped; plants glaucous, often glandular pilose; branches few, confined to region of inflorescence only; leaf segments obovate, oblong, suborbicular, obtuse at apex 27. Corydalis gortschakovii
b. Rootstock slender or thickened, not spindle-shaped; plants subglaucous or green; branches several, scattered; leaf segments linear-oblong, linear-ovate, acute or mucronate at apex 51
51a. Petiole-bases broadly winged and sheathing at base; inflorescence simple racemes; unbranched 52
b. Petiole-bases sometimes very narrowly winged not sheathing at base; inflorescence thyrsoid, often branched below 53
52a. Rootstock almost absent; stems angular; pedicels 2 - 5 mm long; flowers yellow with purplish tips on inner petals; crest of upper petal entire; seeds opaque, mucronulate or punctulate 11. Corydalis cornuta
b. Rootstock present; stems not angular; pedicels 4 - 10 mm long; flowers yellow with brownish veins, not purple-tipped; crest of upper petal dentate or denticulate; seeds shiny, smooth 53. Corydalis vaginans
53a. Racemes 30 - 40-flowered, 5 - 12 cm long; flowers with purple tips; spur robust, broad, straight; capsules ellipsoid, 5 - 7 mm long, ca 4 mm broad, 3 - 4 -seeded 51. Corydalis thyrsiflora
b. Racemes 15 - 20-flowered, 3 - 6 cm long; flowers without purple tips; spur slender, down-curved; capsules oblong, 8 - 10 mm long, 25 - 3 mm broad, 6 - 8-seeded 41. Corydalis pakistanica

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