Corydalis malkensis is one of the more obliging, and horticulturally respected of the tuberous Corydalis. Diminutive in size, but profuse in flower, it’s elegance belies it’s ease of cultivation.
This Corydalis originally hails from that treasure trove of bulb forming plants, The Caucasus, with the species being named after the Malka River, in whose valleys it can be found. (The Malka River wends it’s merry way from northern slopes of Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in the Caucasus, down into the River Terek and thence into the Caspian Sea.) Despite it’s origins in those diversely wooded valleys, it has been making it’s presence known on the UK’s horticultural scene since the 1960s. In 1993, the RHS saw fit to bestow our plucky friend with an AGM. Whether Corydalis malkensis as a species regarded this as an achievement remains to be seen, but that particular accolade is often held in high esteem by humans with a penchant for horticulture.
Horticulture in practice
Regardless, if you desire to make Corydalis malkensis at home in your garden, a woodland situation is what you are aiming for: light shade probably being the most important element to get right. As things stand, climatologically speaking, the UK is perfectly wet enough already.
Early to rise and early to bed is the motto of so many of the tuberous Corydalis, and Corydalis malkensis is no exception. It flowers from late February to March and dutifully disappear before the heat of the summer sets in. The short towers of white-to-cream flowers it produces are much broader lipped than it’s more familiar cousin Corydalis solida, but in habit and growing conditions it is similar.
In time, a carpet of white flowers can manifest itself as the tubers slowly increase in size and the seeds gently spread. It disappears underground quite early in the season, never outstaying it’s welcome like some other self seeding bulbs. A charming presence in any garden. At the time of writing, there are still a few of these gems available for purchase at the shop.