Corydalis aurea (Golden Corydalis)

Plant Info
Also known as: Scrambled Eggs
Family:Fumariaceae (Fumitory)
Life cycle:annual, biennial
Habitat:part shade; rocky or sandy soil; disturbed sites, open woods, along shores, bluffs, outcrops, gravel pits
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:4 to 20 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Racemes of up to 20 pale to bright golden yellow flowers that are initially erect, becoming horizontal to drooping with age. Flowers are tubular, ½ to 2/3 inch long with 2 pairs of petals and a slightly curved spur at the back about half as long as the rest of the flower. The outer upper petal is folded along a front midline and forms the spur. Both outer and inner petals broaden out to form ruffled lips at the opening; the upper curls up into a crest and the lower rolling out and down like a ruffled tongue. Outer petals have a spot of green in the center of the tip end that may turn yellow with age. Bracts are linear to elliptic, about 3/8 inch long. The uppermost leaves on a flowering branch typically rise above the raceme. Secondary clusters on lower branches have fewer flowers than upper branches.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound Leaf type: lobed

[photo of leaves] Leaves are to 3 inches long, 3 times pinnately compound, leaflets deeply divided with lobes further divided into narrowly elliptic, pointed segments, giving them a feathery appearance. Surfaces are hairless, covered by a waxy bloom that often gives a blue-green or gray-green cast. Stems are multiple from the base, prostrate with the branches ascending, hairless, weakly angled, and light green to reddish.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a pod-like capsule about ¾ inch long, slender to stout, widely spreading to hanging, initially straight typically curling up as the shiny black seeds ripen.


The pod-like fruits resemble those of members of the pea family, but this species is a relative of Dutchman's Breeches. Golden Corydalis is similar to another native yellow corydalis, Slender Fumewort (Corydalis micrantha), which has primary flower clusters typically exceeding the height of the uppermost leaves, slightly smaller flowers (½ inch or less), its capsules are mostly erect and straight, seeds are smaller, and plants often have cleistogamous (petal-less, self-pollinating) flowers. While their ranges overlap some, Slender Fumewort is uncommon and scattered in the southern third of the state, where Golden Corydalis is more common and present in most counties except in the southwest and south central part of the state. There are 2 subspecies of C. aurea: subsp. aurea is found in Minnesota and described above, subsp. occidentalis is found farther south and west, has erect fruits, a narrow ring around the edge of seeds, and racemes generally exceeding the leaves.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken along the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Jay Cooke State Park, Carlton County, and in Aitkin and Cass counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Karine - Itasca State Park
on: 2011-06-01 21:33:55

First time I found this flower and haven't seen much of it yet.

Posted by: meli - Fillmore County
on: 2014-05-14 10:49:26

Seen this morning along the Root River Trail between Lanesboro and Whalen.

Posted by: John - West St. Paul
on: 2015-09-23 17:24:16

This came up in my yard several years ago, apparently from seeds in the ground that had come off of plants planted by the gardener that was here before me. Have been surprised that it grew around the base of a spruce. Seemed too shady. But I have limbed it up over the years. Lush leaves this year(2015) but no flowers. Maybe too much rain and not enough heat?

Posted by: John - Near Mille Lacs
on: 2016-04-23 18:18:57

I saw this beautiful flower blooming near a cluster of fallen trees.

Posted by: Mike - Nevis (north-central)
on: 2016-05-05 12:41:39

Finding this plant colonizing disturbed topsoil at our new homesite. It makes for a good temporary ground cover - glad its not noxious or invasive!

Posted by: luciearl - Lake Shore, MN
on: 2016-05-10 22:12:28

Happy to discover this is native. It grows in my landscaping rocks. Possibly I have pull it up in the past, thinking it was a weed. It's here to stay now.

Posted by: Lauren - Frontenac State Park
on: 2017-05-01 08:10:28

Found growing right before a bridge over a creek, seems to like the shady forest floor.

Posted by: Mary E Kerr - Minneapolis
on: 2018-06-25 12:05:29

I planted this once at least a decade ago in beds that are held on a partly shaded hill side. They have been popping up consistently in random spots in those beds ever since. It must be the perfect spot for them because they never stray to other parts of the yard. I'm a casual gardener and usually leave them where they come up. I love them!

Posted by: Theresa Reardon Offerman - NE Crow Wing County near Emily
on: 2019-06-14 12:41:35

This plant is scattered throughout our property, particularly in our rock gardens and along the edges of the woods. It spontaneously appears during the spring and summer. I recently noticed that the hummingbirds really like it and are frequent visitors.

Posted by: Chris Freeman - Saint Paul
on: 2020-05-04 17:01:11

There is a good sized stand of it in Como Park in a heavily wooded area on the south side of the park and zoo. It carpets the forest floor in spring and just saw a lot of it May 1st blooming in all its glory.

Posted by: Celeste Sigmund - Finland, MN
on: 2023-07-04 13:57:20

I have this plant growing in my horse pasture? NEver saw it before so when I saw it this year I had to look it up to find out what it was! It's a pretty little plant!

Posted by: Pat Dicker - Lake of the Woods
on: 2024-05-18 11:59:08

Found these growing in my gravel driveway.

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