With Corydalis integra now in full growth, I thought I’d do a post about this unfussy but charming plant. It is a close relative of the better known and more widely grown Corydalis solida, and it looks very similar too. The ‘integra’ of it’s name (latin for whole or entire) refers to the bracts (the little leaves which sit below the flower where it joins the main stem). These bracts are generally entire as opposed to the divided bracts of many related Corydalis.
Being a native to the more mountainous areas of the Greek islands and the surrounding Aegean area, Corydalis integra seems quite at home with the occasional cold spell in the spring. A lot of Corydalis prefer a more continental climate, with a cold winter and a definite move into a warm spring; a late frost can be quite detrimental. C. integra copes with our climatological conundrums with an admirable devil-may-care attitude, and it has sailed through several spells late frosts here without too much trouble. As you might expect from it’s natural distribution it also takes dry spells in it’s stride, although a little moisture when in growth is certainly beneficial.
In the wild, it is a variable plant: the strength of the flower colour and the form of the plant as a whole can be quite different. This variability has been caused, in part, by it’s prevalance across the islands, meaning different populations of the plant develop in isolation from each other. The particular strain I grow has pale pink outer petals surrounding deep purple inner petals. The foliage is of equal interest, in it’s subtle way: strong growing and glaucous, it provides an excellent foil for the flowers.
Here in Birmingham’s climate, it emerges from the ground at the end of January or beginning of February, slowly progressing to full flower in February and March. At the height of it’s powers, it only reaches the humble heights of about 20cm, but with flower spikes containing up to 20 flowers, it certainly doesn’t lack presence. It also has the benefit of multiplying at a steady rate, producing a sizeable clump in the space of a couple of years.
Despite being much lesser known than some other Corydalis, for me it is one of the easiest and most reliable of the bunch. As soon as I can get to grips with the finer points of e-commerce, I have a small number if these available to buy, so keep your eyes peeled or get in touch if you’d like to reserve one.