Tennessee Wildflowers Blooming (Yellow Corydalis)

Tennessee Wildflowers Blooming (Yellow Corydalis)

On Saturday we went up to visit the in-laws for Easter. The day was cool but sunny with a little wind and with the right amount of layering was quite pleasant. It was one of those spring days that almost, just almost felt like spring. It still had the cool sentiments of our Tennessee winters. After visiting for a little while and having lunch, I went exploring the woods in the back. They have about 6 acres of land around their house, most of which is natural woodlands. I don’t get back there often enough but each time I do I try to find something new to look at. Saturday was a good day for that! I was fortunate to find this little flower, and I mean little! The flowers are probably less than half an inch in length.

I didn’t know what it was at first, but I found it interesting and took several pictures. I even collected two of them to bring into my garden. I took care to leave plenty of them there since I did not want to significantly disturb the natural habitat. The two I collected were in the mowing area of the yard so by collecting them I may have been saving them from the blades of the mower.

After we arrived home last evening I took out our Wildflowers of Tennessee book by Jack B. Carman and identified it as a Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis flavula). I was fascinated by the crested flowers and the feathery, almost fern like leaves. According to Jack Carman the Yellow Corydalis is an annual that appears in much of Tennessee and the northeastern U.S. in moist locations. They grow anywhere between four and twelve inches tall. Here’s another interesting tidbit of information thanks to Mr. Carman: the genus name (Corydalis) comes from Greek and means crested lark. A very appropriate name to describe the flowers of this little wildflower.

The corydalis I found was thriving in the yard and back in the woods. It is probably one of those flowers that uses the shelter of the forest in the hot summer months and takes advantage of the the winter and early spring sun that streams in from the deciduous forest. Since it is an annual I hope to gather seed from the two transplants I collected. If not it will be worth appreciating even for a short time. In the picture below you can see a corydalis resting beneath a rocky outcropping.

I had a couple other discoveries that I’ll share with you soon. One of which I still need to identify!


Dave has written GrowingTheHomeGarden.com since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. I love that little sweetie blooming in a pot under the steps!
    Isn’t the wildflower book one of the best?

    I tagged you right this minute, so forgive me saddling you with a chain email…details and mea culpa on latest posting.

    your pal?


  2. ps

    I meant to say…It is blooming in a pot I put under the steps for the winter, a nice surprise to find.

    I am on the road with my husband’s laptop…and not used to not having a mouse.


  3. Hi Dave. I just love finding wildflowers in the woods! Too early for any here just yet. Wouldn’t this be a perennial, though?

  4. Gail,

    It is a great book, I’m glad we have it. There is so much information on Tennessee Wildflowers in it. Don’t worry about the tag, I’ve done one before, I think I can handle another one!


    I wish it were a perennial but I think it’s more of a self-seeding annual. Since I have no personal experience with this corydalis I’ll just defer to what Jack Carman wrote in his wildflower book! It would be nice if it were a perennial. I may put it next to the Mediterranean heather to see how that combination works. Maybe it will turn out to be a perennial!

  5. A darling little flower. I’m passionate about wildflowers.

  6. Kylee

    I did a quick search around the net and I did see it listed in one spot as a perennial. The USDA Plant profiles have it listed as an annual. It may just depend on where it is. It could be a tender perennial presumed to be an annual.

  7. Yeah, maybe it does self-seed. It would have to, if it’s an annual. I hope you get more of it, in any case! It’s really cute and pretty!

  8. good information. did not know it grew wild here. i grew corydalis lutea for about three years. this is a perennial which came back each year and bloomed non stop from may to about october! loved it. little and yellow too. i lost it in the drought of 07. i am hoping maybe some seeds might still pop up but i doubt it since in never really seeded in my garden. thanks for the info on this corydalis! learning so much!

  9. What a sweet little flower. We have quite a bit of corydalis out near our street in a shade garden. When my daughter was little we’d wait for the bus and she’d “tickle” them because she like to see them “laugh”.

    I can’t help but smile now when I see corydalis.

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