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Corydalis caseana subspecies brandegei
Corydalis caseana subspecies brandegeei (Case's Corydalis)
Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)

Montane, subalpine. Wet meadows and forests. Summer.
Wolf Creek Pass, July 15, 2006.

It is hard to believe that the two miniature species of yellow Corydalis (click to see) that we commonly encounter in the Four Corners area are related to the giant at left.  But they are.  Corydalis caseana subspecies brandegeei grows from three to six feet tall, dies back in the fall, and starts its rapid growth again soon after snow-melt.  Flowers are about three-quarters of an inch long and vary from white to pink.

Asa Gray named Corydalis caseana in 1874 and there are now eight recognized subspecies that grow from northern California into Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Utah.  The subspecies are geographical isolated one from the other, but Idaho has three subspecies.  The subspecies brandegeei is found only in nine southwestern Colorado counties and Rio Arriba County in New Mexico.

"Caseana" is for Professor E. L. Case of California, and "brandegeei" is for Townshend Brandegee who was the botanist on the first Southwest Colorado explorations of the Hayden Survey in 1875.  Brandegee found the Colorado subspecies growing in the "Piedra Mountains, 10,000 feet altitude". (Quotation from Brandegee's report for the Hayden Survey.)  (More biographical information about Case and more about Brandegee.)

Corydalis caseana subspecies brandegei

Corydalis caseana subspecies brandegei

Corydalis caseana subspecies brandegeei (Case's Corydalis)
Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)

Montane, subalpine. Wet meadows and forests. Summer.
Wolf Creek Pass, July 15, 2006 and July 24, 2011.

Professor Joan Maloof of Salisbury University has studied Colorado's Corydalis caseana subspecies brandegeei since 1996 after she noticed that bees were biting through the rear of the flower to extract nectar.  She wondered if these plants are rare because the bees were decreasing their reproductive capacity.  Her research has shown that Corydalis caseana  depends on pollinators which are not driven away by the "robber bees", and that although the robber bees tear through most flowers, they are not interfering with the plant's reproductive capacities.  (Information taken from the Salisbury University On-line Newsletter of 2002  --  unfortunately no longer available.)

Both photos at left show fresh flowers, dying flowers, and young green seed pods.

Corydalis caseana subspecies brandegei
Corydalis caseana subspecies brandegeei (Case's Corydalis)
Papaveraceae (Poppy Family)

Montane, subalpine. Wet meadows and forests. Summer.
Opal Lake Trail, July 10, 2010.

Spring growth is rapid and massive.  In the photograph at left we are peering at the half inch thick stems through a five foot tall canopy of leaves and flowers.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Corydalis caseana

Corydalis caseana subspecies brandegeei

Range map for Corydalis caseana subspecies brandegeei