The neatly dissected, compound leaves of Corydalis will remind you of Dutchman’s Breeches or Bleeding Hearts. That’s because these plants are all in the same family–the fumewort family. The plants in the Corydalis genus have elongated flowers that are held above the leaves. The species pictured here, Corydalis flavula, is a short, wild species that only reaches about 12 inches in height and has yellow flowers. The upper petal of the flower is toothed and turned upward, distinguishing it from other similar species. This is a re-seeding, native annual that prefers moist, loose soil.
Corydalis is sometimes called yellow harlequin or yellow fumewort. It can be found growing in moist woods in April and May. I found these plants growing in a disturbed area around an old lime kiln at Falls Ridge Preserve, near Blacksburg, Virginia.
In the gallery below, the last two photos in the series are Corydalis lutea. These plants were photographed in my neighbor’s garden. They were most likely purchased commercially and sold under the common name “yellow bleeding hearts”.