Corydalis micrantha subsp. micrantha (Engelm. ex A. Gray) A. Gray — Overview

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Comprehensive Description

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This plant is a winter or spring annual. A typical plant consists of a rosette of basal leaves about 8" across and several flowering stalks about 8" long. The blades of the basal leaves are up to 3" long and 2" across; they are pinnately compound, dull green to greyish blue, and hairless. The small lobes of the blades taper to obtuse points. The basal leaves have long slender petioles that are about as long as the blades. Alternate leaves occur along the flowering stalks. They are similar in appearance to the basal leaves, except that they are smaller in size and their petioles are shorter. The flowering stalks are are pale green to pale reddish green, hairless, and somewhat glaucous; they are sprawling, ascending, or erect. Each stalk terminates in a raceme of flowers up to 3" long. Each flower has a corolla consisting of 2 outer petals that are pale yellow to yellow and 2 inner petals that are more white and membranous. The upper outer petal forms a fringed upper lip in front and a rounded nectar spur in back; the top of the upper lip has a greenish yellow keel that may be slightly winged or crested. The lower outer petal forms a lower lip that functions as a landing pad for visiting insects; the bottom of the lower lip also has a greenish yellow keel that is similar to the upper keel. The inner petals are largely hidden by the outer petals, except when the flower is fully open; at that time, they are pale white or greenish yellow. Each flower is about 1/3" to 1/2" (8-12 mm.) long and its pedicel is 1/4" (6 mm.) long or less. At the base of each pedicel, there is a single leafy bract up to 1/3" (8 mm.) long; this small bract is ovate or ovate-lanceolate. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late-spring, lasting about 1–1½ months. There is no noticeable floral scent. Each flower is replaced by a seedpod up to 2/3" (17 mm.) long. Each seedpod is dull green, hairless, slightly glaucous, and cylindrical in shape; several pale veins may be detectable that run along its length. The tip of each seedpod terminates in a beak. The surface of the seedpod between the seeds may be slightly constricted or unconstricted. Relative to the stalk of each raceme, the seedpods are erect or ascending, rather than widely spreading. The small seeds are about 1.0–1.5 mm. across, flattened, circular, shiny, and black. Fresh seeds have a small fleshy appendage that is white; this is an elaisome. The seedpods split open to release the seeds while they are still green. The root system consists of a slender taproot that branches abundantly. This plant spreads by reseeding itself. Cultivation


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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