Corydalis sempervirens (Pale Corydalis)

Plant Info
Also known as: Rock Harlequin, Pink Corydalis
Family:Fumariaceae (Fumitory)
Life cycle:biennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; rocky soil, boreal forests, lake shores
Bloom season:May - September
Plant height:12 to 40 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

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

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

[photo of flowres] Racemes of hanging tubular flowers on slender stalks. Flowers have 2 pairs of petals and a short blunt spur at the back. Petals are pale rose to deep pink with bright yellow lips at the mouth of the tube. The pink tube is somewhat flattened with a ridge all along the top and around the spur. The lower petals are thin and narrow and fit in the fold of the upper; the lips of both flare into bright yellow lobes at the opening, the upper lip three-lobed and the lower single. A pair of tiny teardrop shaped sepals grasp the flower at the end of the stalk.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in groups of 3 to 5, with leaflets cleft in 2 or 3 parts that are further divided into narrow segments, rounded or blunt at the tips. Lower leaves are stalked, upper leaves are stalkless or nearly so. Stems are erect; leaves and stems are hairless, gray-green to blue-green, covered by a waxy bloom.


Pale Corydalis prefers the cooler rocky, sandy shores of lakes and rivers of the northeastern boreal forest and is most frequenly found as scattered plants in rocky, sandy soil in forest openings, river basins and lake shores, often in just cracks in the boulders. Large robust stands can rapidly colonize disturbed forest openings but are unlikely to persist as other species grow in. I have seen some very nice specimens growing in home flower gardens in northeastern Minnesota. This can perform very well in drier, poored garden soils though it will likely not tolerate excessively hot locations. It is an attractive flower with a long bloom season.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in St. Louis County. Photo courtesy Julia Vanatta taken at Isle Royale.


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

Posted by: E Shea - Tettegouche State Park
on: 2011-05-31 18:22:43

Seen at Tettegouche State Park, May 2011.

Posted by: Phyllis - Silica (Hibbing area)
on: 2011-07-14 08:44:13

We saw this really pretty flower in the woods, kind of near a creek.

Posted by: Kara - Cherokee Lake BWCA
on: 2011-10-03 13:26:02

I found this beautiful little plant growing out of a crack in a huge boulder on an island in Cherokee Lake. I am so glad I ran across this ID Page, have a few other plants to look up that I photographed during my 10 day trip in early June to the BWCA. The information here is excellent and will be a welcome addition to my photo book.

Posted by: Lisa - BWCA
on: 2012-06-17 21:15:51

This wasn't seen by me, but is on Sawbill Canoe Outfitters newsletter:

Posted by: Eric - Oberg Mountain on North Shore
on: 2013-07-01 00:54:07

Photographed on rocky outcropping at top of Oberg Mountain, on the loop trail on June 29, 2013.

Posted by: Curtis - Lake Vermilion State Park
on: 2013-10-03 09:26:32

Hiking in Lake Vermilion State Park. Found on rocky, lichen covered rock outcropping just west of the parking lot.

Posted by: connie - palisaide head
on: 2014-06-07 13:45:31

So beautiful growing in the rock!

Posted by: Steve - Split Rock Park
on: 2015-03-05 16:24:15

Found many plants on top of a tall rocky outcrop jutting out into the lake. It covered a large area and was quite tall. Very beautiful.

Posted by: Lee - Basswood Lake BWCA
on: 2015-06-08 11:55:46

so beautiful Looks like half a bleeding heart

Posted by: Greg - Carlton County
on: 2015-06-11 11:27:56

Found in the middle of harvest unit, on top of a low esker, during a FSC-SFI audit. Both Rainforest Alliance and PriceWaterhouseCoopers auditors were impressed.

Posted by: Clara - Bemidji
on: 2015-06-22 22:13:36

It is growing in my back yard. A lot of the locals call it honeysuckle but I knew it wasn't right as I grew up with real honeysuckle in my backyard.

Posted by: Marty - Hovland (on my private property)
on: 2017-06-04 16:05:05

Beautiful, so delicate

Posted by: Kim R - BWCAW
on: 2017-06-22 17:54:06

Found one cluster of these beautiful delicate flowers growing on a rocky outcropping of a camp site on Cross Bay Lake. I had just seen a picture of it in a wildflower book and was delighted to actually see one for real.

Posted by: Bob M - Woodenfrog picnic area west end of Lake Kabetogamma
on: 2017-09-02 16:53:55

A small cluster behind a boulder on the lake shore

Posted by: Kathleen A. Connelly - Second of group of 3 overlooks at Ennis Lake, outside of Ely
on: 2019-06-02 08:35:49

Group of about 25 growing on rock outcrop, more over the cliff in the vertical rock face, and also isolated plants across this overlook area. 6-1-19. Full sun. On warm days these would get high heat.

Posted by: Jane Volz - Ham Lake campsite near BWCA - June 14, 2019
on: 2019-06-15 09:14:20

What a beautiful delicate flower! Found growing in some cracks on a solid rock lake shore spot on Ham Lake.

Posted by: Penny R - Lake One - BWCA
on: 2019-06-15 22:00:16

Such a stunning flower. We were paddling our canoe and it caught our attention on the shoreline.

Posted by: Heidi J - Temperance River State Park
on: 2019-06-16 16:28:42

Saw a few of these growing in a small grassy area upon the rock. Wanted to show my brother on the way back, but by then someone had picked them all. Please remember the "take only pictures, leave only footprints" guideline.

Posted by: Nancy Carroll - Green Valley Township in Eastern Becker County
on: 2020-06-04 12:40:16

Found in former balsam and popple woodland near numerous Golden Cordyalis.

Posted by: Jake Bishop - Loiten Lake
on: 2021-05-16 20:57:03

Saw several near our campsite in Voyageurs National Park.

Posted by: Beverly J Norris - Top of Pincushion Mountain, Cook County, MN
on: 2021-05-30 10:03:17

May 29, 2021

Posted by: richard Isenhart - Lake Vermilion St. Pk. Campground
on: 2021-06-20 09:10:15

On rocky outcrop.lovely macro photo op!

Posted by: MARIE A HAGE - Moose Lake
on: 2021-09-25 13:39:21

Found randomly growing in my vegetable garden.

Posted by: susan bergstrom - Lake Kabetogama
on: 2022-05-29 20:06:43

I found those cuties growing on rocky cliffs at the Beaver Pond overlook in Voyager National Park on May 28, 2022.

Posted by: Elaine - east of Cutface Creek along bike path
on: 2022-06-30 09:17:59

Large blooming plant at top of rocky cliff.

Posted by: Jim Dillon - Ella Lake, BWCWA (west of Sawbill Lake)
on: 2022-08-17 07:35:38

A nice group of these at Campsite 834.

Posted by: Nerbin - Gunflint Lake
on: 2024-05-30 15:26:30

Found growing on Border Route Trail west to Magnetic Rock

Posted by: Deborah Mesplay - Taylors Falls
on: 2024-06-10 20:26:42

This has popped up in the back of a row of peonies in front of my porch. There appears to be two plants growing upright at least two feet tall. No blooms at this time. June 10, 2024

Posted by: Rhyan - Big stone NWR
on: 2024-07-06 16:10:01

Founds growing atop a very large rock outcrop on the refuge. A very wet spring has increased the amount of flowers present on the rocks this year

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