The corydalis which are familiar to most gardeners have dainty, fern-like leaves; this one is a much more robust plant with large, almost fleshy, leaves that undergo several colour changes. The emerging foliage is maroon and chocolate, fading to dark olive by the time the plant flowers at the end of March, and then becoming green in June. I’ve only been growing it since it was introduced in 2007 but already have come to appreciate both its vigour and its good looks. You expect strong-coloured flowers on such a beefy plant but they are a winsome pale-lavender and resemble a school of dolphins.
This cultivar was selected by a Dutch wholesale nursery from seed imported from China. It grows to about 30cm tall and does best in well drained, humus-rich soil in a cool, shady situation. It flowers from March to the end of May.