Stem. - Six inches to two feet high. Leaves. - Pale, divided into delicate leaflets. Flowers. - Pink and yellow, in loose clusters. Calyx. - Of two small, scale-like sepals. Corolla. - Pink, tipped with yellow; closed and flattened, of four petals, with a short spur at the base of the upper petal. Stamens. - Six, maturing before the pistil, thus avoiding self-fertilization. Pistil. - One.
From the rocky clefts in the summer woods springs the pale corydalis, its graceful foliage dim with a whitish bloom, and its delicate' rosy, yellow-tipped flowers betraying by their odd flat corollas their kinship with the Dutchman's breeches and squirrel corn of the early year, as well as with the bleeding hearts of the garden. Thoreau assigns them to the middle of May, and says they are "rarely met with," which statement does not coincide with the experience of those who find the rocky woodlands each summer abundantly decorated with their fragile clusters.
The generic name, Corydalis, is the ancient Greek title for the crested lark, and said to refer to the crested seeds of this genus. The specific title, glauca, refers to the pallor of leaves and stem.
The golden corydalis, C. aurea, is found on rocky banks somewhat westward.