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COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the Scouler’s Corydalis in Canada

COSEWIC Status Report
on the
Scouler’s Corydalis
Corydalis scouleri
in Canada

Species Information

Name and Classification

Scientific name:
Corydalis scouleri Hook.
Common name:
Scouler’s Corydalis; Western Corydalis
Fumariaceae, Fumitory or Bleeding-Heart Family
Major plant group:
Eudicot flowering plant

Morphological Description

Scouler’s corydalis is a tall perennial herb with thick rhizomes (Douglas et al. 1999a, Douglas and Jamison 2000). Stems are hollow, simple or somewhat branched above and 40–120 cm tall. The blue-green, glaucous (white or blue waxy surface) leaves are usually three in number, from near or above the middle of the stem. The lower one is often 20–30 cm long (Figure 1). The terminal inflorescence, appearing in May and June, is usually a compound raceme (an elongated inflorescence with youngest flowers at the tip) of 15–20, spurred, rosy-pink flowers. For each plant, the large dissected leaves form a delicate blue-green canopy, which intermingles in dense stands with other canopies to form a raised carpet of lush foliage about 1 m above the forest floor (Figure 2). There is no comprehensive monograph for this genus, although about 110 species of Corydalis are known to exist, native to the North Temperate zone and South Africa (Liden 1986).

Figure 1: Illustration of Scouler’s Corydalis

Figure 1: Illustration of Scouler’s corydalis

From Douglas et al. 1999a, with permission.

Figure 2: Scouler’s Corydalis Habitat in the Nitinat River Drainage

Figure 2: Scouler’s corydalis habitat in the Nitinat River drainage.

Douglas Ecological Consultants 2003

Flowers of Scouler’s corydalis are bilaterally symmetrical, with two laterally placed outer petals, one of which is spurred or hooded, and two inner, dorsiventrally placed petals opposite the rudimentary and quickly deciduous sepals. The tips of the inner petals join to form a second hood that shelters the single, two-lobed stigma and the six stamens fused in two groups alternating with the petals. The obovoid, bicarpellate capsule separates elastically when jarred only slightly, to scatter the shiny, black seeds one to two metres away. As with most other species of corydalis, Scouler’s corydalis has elaiosomes on its seeds. These are fatty bodies that encourage dispersal by ants.

Genetic Description

There has been no known genetic research on Canadian Scouler’s corydalis populations.