Mittwoch, 23. Oktober 2013

Plant of the Day (October 23rd, 2013) - Corydalis lutea (L.) DC. (aka Psuedofumaria lutea (L.) Borkh.)

Today's “Plant of the Day” is Corydalis lutea (L.) DC.; a species from the the Papaverceae, whose namesake is the poppy (Genus: Papaver). The German name for this species is “Gelber Lerchensporn”, while the common English name is “Yellow Corydalis”, what is the literal translation of the species name (“lutea” is the Latin word for “yellow”).

Please note: in some literature, the species is also known as Pseudofurmaria lutea (L.) Borkh. And belongs to the Fumariaceae.

1) Description

C. lutea is a smaller perennial plant, which can reach an average maximum height of nearly 30 centimeters (12 inches). The stalks are very thin. However, there are multiple stalks, which are also richly branched. As a result, the plant can grow in dense stocks. All stalks of the plant are bald.

C. lutea - habitus

The leaves have a complex habitus, because they are double to tripple pinnate. Each leaf consists of of nearly three to five leaflets (however, the actual number may vary from leaf to leaf). To make it even more complicated, the leaflets are digitate with a lobbed margin and have a wedge-shaped ground. The dorsal site of each leaflet is bright green, while the ventral site is greyish-green. Stipules are missing, but the bracts are very narrow and not pinnate, so they might look like stipules.

C. lutea - leave (and leaflets)

The inflorescences of C. lutea are racemes with many flowers. These flowers are cygomorphic and consists of four petals and sepals. Both, sepals and petals, have a golden yellow color (hence the name “lutea”). The sepals are a little bit longer than the petals and form a characteristic extension: the Spur (“Sporn” in German).

C. lutea - flowers with spur (red Circle)

Flowering time is between May and October. The primary pollinators are insects, which land on the flower and open the perianth tube by their weight. The ripe fruits are green silques, which contain many small, black seeds.

2) Distribution

C. lutea is native to the Alpine Regions of southern Europe (like Italy or Switzerland), where it grows between lime rocks. By the time, the plant spread across Europe and was imported to North America as ornamental plant.

C. lutea - silques

As a result, the species can be found in many temperate regions of the world today. C. lutea grows on walls, which are similar to its natural habitat. So, it has become very common in cities

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