Corydalis ex paczoski

Corydalis ex paczoski

Corydalis are lovely bulbous plants with ferny foliage and distinct flowers that are well suited to a wide range of garden habitats. The 4-petaled flowers cover a wide spectrum of colors, including blue and coral. They are unusual and tubular, and are often held perpendicular to the foliage.  The outer pair of petals has a spur with reflexed tips, and the inside pair discreetly covers the stamens. Grow sun-loving species such as C. cava in a rock garden and shade-loving species such as C. solida in a woodland border or naturalised in the understory.

There are about 450 species, 330 of which are native to China and Tibet. The variable C. solida is found in Sweden, southern Finland to the Urals, central Europe, Spain and Greece. Red and pink forms of C. solida are mostly found in the mountainous region of Transylvania in Romania.

The Dutch nursery Van Tubergen collected good red and pink forms from the Transylvanian Alps about 1925. It named a mauve-pink one ‘G P Baker’ after a famous British mountaineer in the late 19th century. The redder ‘George Baker’ we grow today wasn’t described until around the late 1970s.  This corydalis was probably collected by Josef Kupeç and Milan Prasil in 1972.

Unfortunately these bulbs are often misnamed because the green pods drop their fast-maturing seeds close to the parent plant by late spring. The seedlings vary and many nurseries supply tubers formed from seedlings – perhaps without realising how variable they can be. As a result there are wishy-washy impostors masquerading under the ‘George Baker’ and ‘Beth Evans’ names. It is better to buy any form or subspecies of C. solida (sometimes labelled C. transsylvanica) when the flowers are on, and remember that the colour deepens after colder winters – especially with red forms. A trap we feel into a couple of times.

In our garden we have a number of the bulbous varieties derived from C. cava and C. solida.  “Cava” refers to a hollow or cave within the bulb. “Solida” just means solid. We would love to keep a broader range but sourcing bulbs or fresh seed has proven to be difficult. Except of course if you live on the other side of the Bass Strait or even better the adjoing property to Janis Ruksan’s bulb nursery in Rozula Latvia.

Distribution and Description:
From Ukraine and the “territory of Crimea. Rootstock tuberous. Overall height is 20cm. Flowers appear in early spring.

Background:
This plant is named for Polish botanist Jozef Paczoski. It is worth taking getting ourselves side tracked just for a few moments to learn more about this man. He was born in 1864 and as a young lad didn’t think school was all that important. If it wasn’t for the influence of his botany teacher, we may never have known him.   In 1887 he moved to Krakow, but due to his poor school results was rejected by the local college. Instead he took up the job of gardener-laboratory assistant at the Department of Botany at the florist-IF scheme Schmalhausena. Under his guidance began to study botany and was fortunate enough to go on a field study of flora and fauna to southern Russia. In 1894 he moved to St. Petersburg to take up the role of assistantnt curator of the local botanical garden. While he was there the Krakow Academy of Arts commissioned him to undertake botany studies in different regions of the country and abroad.

In the years 1918-1922 he was professor of the Polytechnic University. In 1923. he returned to the Poland and was the chief scientist of the reserve in the Bialowieza Forest, which is now a National Park). In 1928 he was appointed professor of systematics of plants and sociology at the University of Poznan. But his rebellious nature got him into trouble and he was asked to leave. He bought an orchard near Poznan.  He conducted his observations on the ecology of fruit trees and damage to frost. During the occupation of the Germans (WWII) his orchard was taken over by them and turned into an experimental site for the German university in Poznan. Paczóski was ordered to conduct research. He died of a heart attack when he learned about the beating of his grandson by the Germans.

Availability:
For now display only.