Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Yellow Fumewort - Corydalis flavula   (Rafinesque) de Candolle
Members of Corydalis with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Papaverales » Family Fumariaceae
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Author(Rafinesque) de Candolle
DistributionPresent over much to most of the mountains and Piedmont, ranging east to the western edge of the Coastal Plain, but there only along brownwater rivers (Roanoke and Cape Fear).

This is an Eastern and Mideastern species, ranging from CT, NY, and southeastern NE, south to the FL Panhandle and LA.
AbundanceInfrequent to frequent, though somewhat local, in the mountains and Piedmont; uncommon to locally fairly common along the Roanoke and Cape Fear rivers eastward into the Coastal Plain, east to Northampton, Halifax, and Cumberland counties.
HabitatThis is a species of high pH soil, normally in floodplains. It grows in rich bottomland forests, natural levee forests, Basic Mesic Forests (on lower slopes), and in Rich Cove Forests. It grows best in flat ground as opposed to on slopes.
See also Habitat Account for Rich Wet-Mesic Hardwood Forests
PhenologyBlooms in March and April, and fruits from April into May. The plants quickly wither after fruiting and are normally below ground by mid-May -- as do a number of members of this family (Fumariaceae).
IdentificationThis is a low-growing spring ephemeral wildflower, often growing in large patches. The stem is often branched near the ground and can be somewhat decumbent to erect, and it reaches only about 4 inches tall. The leaves are on long petioles and are alternate, along with basal; each blade is twice-branched, with very small, finger-like ultimate segments; each leaf is barely 3 inches long, counting the petiole. The bright yellow flowers are in short racemes of a few flowers each; each flower is horizontally facing, tubular, and about 1/3-inch long, with a spur in back. C. micrantha and C. halei are quite similar, but they have larger flowers, about 1/2-inch long, with a longer spur; they have fruits erect or ascending, whereas the fruits of C. flavula are drooping. The habitats of these are different, with C. flavula a plant of rich to moist floodplains and cove forests; C. micrantha grows in dry, rocky places, cliffs, and outcrops (over mafic or calcareous rocks), and C. halei grows only in the Coastal Plain and in sandy soil or roadsides and other clearings. C. flavula is locally numerous enough in some bottomlands that the bright yellow of the flowers is noticeable, even though each flower and each plant is quite small. As with many other low-growing native spring ephemerals, they must compete with exotics such as Microstegium vimineum and Stellaria media for valued space on the forest floor.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Yellow Corydalis, Yellow Harlequin, Short-spurred Corydalis
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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Harry LeGrandJohnston County; Neuse River Greenway about 300 yards SE of the Wake County line; 7 April 2020 JohnstonPhoto_natural
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