Corydalis aurea  Stephen M. Young

Corydalis aurea
Stephen M. Young

Dicotyledoneae (Dicots)
Fumariaceae (Fumitory Family)
State Protection
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Global Conservation Status Rank


Did you know?

The seeds of golden corydalis have a nutrient-rich appendage, or aril, typically found in plant wildflower species attractive to ants. The ants collect the arils, which in turn serves to disperse the seeds. The corms of Corydalis and related plants contain alkaloids used in traditional Native American and Chinese medicines.

State Ranking Justification

In New York there are 9 verified, current locations for golden corydalis; 3 of these occurrences are very small. There are about 10 historical locations need to be checked.

Short-term Trends

The transitory nature of this species, which may appear for only a few years following a disturbance but persist in the seed bank and re-appear when conditions are favorable, make it difficult to track at any given location.

Long-term Trends

More inventory of historical locations is needed in order to better assess long-term trends for New York populations of this species.

Conservation and Management


Changes in disturbance regime (both natural and human disturbance) could threaten occurrences of this species.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Regular disturbance may be needed for populations of golden corydalis to persist over time.

Research Needs

Additional inventory of historical sites, as well as monitoring of extant sites as conditions change, is needed.



In New York golden corydalis is known primarily from dry, rocky calcareous sites, including alvar and limestone pavements, barrens, summits, and woodlands (New York Natural heritage program 2007). In other states it also occurs on gravelly shores, rock ledges and summits, piney woodlands, and disturbed sites such as clearings, trails, and gravel or sand pits (Voss 1985, Rhoads and Block 2000).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Alvar pavement grassland (guide)
  • Alvar shrubland* (guide)
  • Alvar woodland (guide)
  • Calcareous cliff community* (guide)
  • Calcareous red cedar barrens* (guide)
  • Calcareous shoreline outcrop (guide)
  • Calcareous talus slope woodland* (guide)
  • Cliff community* (guide)
  • Dwarf pine ridges* (guide)
  • Great Lakes bluff* (guide)
  • Limestone woodland (guide)
  • Northern white cedar rocky summit*
  • Pitch pine-oak-heath rocky summit* (guide)
  • Red cedar rocky summit* (guide)
  • Roadcut cliff/slope*
  • Rock quarry*
  • Shale cliff and talus community* (guide)
  • Successional red cedar woodland*

Associated Species

  • Adiantum pedatum (maidenhair fern)
  • Adlumia fungosa (Allegheny-vine)
  • Campanula rotundifolia (hare-bell)
  • Carex backii (Back's sedge)
  • Carex deweyana
  • Carex eburnea (bristle-leaved sedge)
  • Carex rosea (common upland star sedge)
  • Cynoglossum virginianum
  • Dryopteris marginalis (marginal wood fern)
  • Fragaria virginiana
  • Geranium bicknellii (northern crane's-bill)
  • Juniperus virginiana
  • Ostrya virginiana (hop hornbeam, ironwood)
  • Pinus strobus (white pine)
  • Poa compressa (flat-stemmed blue grass, Canada blue grass)
  • Quercus rubra (northern red oak)
  • Saxifraga virginiensis
  • Thuja occidentalis (northern white cedar, arbor vitae)
  • Tilia americana
  • Toxicodendron radicans


New York State Distribution

There are scattered locations in eastern New York from Canada to Long Island, as well as sites in Jefferson and Tompkins counties further west.

Identification Comments

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

Golden corydalis is best identified when in flower.

Similar Species

Corydalis flavula, the only other yellow-flowered corydalis in New York, has similar leaves but its flowers are about half the size of those of C. aurea, and have a prominent crest or wing on the outer petal not found in golden corydalis. Corydalis flavula also is typically found in wetter and/or less open sites than C. aurea.

Golden corydalis may grow alongside Corydalis sempervirens (Rock Harlequin, or Pale Corydalis), which has pink to purplish flowers. In vegetative form C. aurea differs from C. sempervirens by its less glacous leaves and stems, more sprawling habit, and more finely dissected leaves.

Best Time to See

Golden corydalis may be found flowering from May into September; fresh flowers found in late summer may be the product of fruit from early-blooming plants of the same season. The leaves senesce but persist into flowering and fruiting. Flowering specimens are best for identification and collection purposes.

  • Flowering
  • Fruiting

The time of year you would expect to find Golden Corydalis flowering and fruiting in New York.

Golden Corydalis Images


Golden Corydalis
Corydalis aurea Willd.

  • Kingdom Plantae
    • Phylum Anthophyta
      • Class Dicotyledoneae (Dicots)
        • Order Papaverales
          • Family Fumariaceae (Fumitory Family)


  • Capnoides aureum (Willd.) Kuntze

Additional Resources

Best Identification Reference

Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

Other References

Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

House, Homer D. 1924. Annotated list of the ferns and flowering plants of New York State. New York State Museum Bulletin 254:1-758.

Mitchell, R. S. 1983. Berberodaceae through Fumariaceae of New York State. New York State Museum Bull. 451: 1-66.

Mitchell, Richard S. and Gordon C. Tucker. 1997. Revised Checklist of New York State Plants. Contributions to a Flora of New York State. Checklist IV. Bulletin No. 490. New York State Museum. Albany, NY. 400 pp.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

Rhoads, Ann F. and Timothy A. Block. 2000. The Plants of Pennsylvania, an Illustrated Manual. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA.

Smith, Gerald A. No date. Bird breeding season survey at El Dorado Beach Preserve 1981-.

Voss, E.G. 1985. Michigan Flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae - Cornaceae). Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium. Ann Arbor, Michigan. 724 pp.

Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, New York


About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: January 5, 2009

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. Online Conservation Guide for Corydalis aurea. Available from: Accessed March 19, 2019.

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