Pale Corydalis

Corydalis flavula


Photo of pale corydalis leaves and yellow flowers
Julianna Schroeder

Fumariaceae (fumitories; bleeding-hearts)


All Corydalis species are delicate, low-growing, and sometime form mats. Flowers in terminal racemes with a few florets, each light yellow, the petals converging (but not fused) into a tubelike appearance with a spur; the supporting stem attached near the center of the flower rather than at the end. Blooms April-May. Leaves similar to Dutchman’s breeches; compound, with fernlike, dissected divisions, carried on flowering stems and arising from base, bluish green.

There are four species of Corydalis in Missouri, and they are quite similar in appearance.


Height: to about 10 inches.

Pale Corydalis

Pale Corydalis
Pale Corydalis
Pale Corydalis in Lincoln County
Habitat and conservation

Occurs in rich woods, along streams, and below bluffs.

image of Pale Corydalis distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Primarily an Ozark flower of south and central Missouri.


Also called yellow fumewort, yellow corydalis, and yellow harlequin.

Human connections

Pale corydalis and its close relatives contain a variety of alkaloids and other chemicals that render them “medicinal” and probably toxic. Despite any historic medicinal uses uncovered by anthropologists, it's best not to experiment with such plants.

Ecosystem connections

This species, like other early spring wildflowers in forests, is adapted so that its growth and flowering take place before the trees get their leaves and shade them out. At the same time, though, these flowers require the forest habitat to survive.