Yellow fumewort – planting, care and tips

Yellow fumewort / yellow corydalis (Pseudofumaria lutea)
Yellow fumewort / yellow corydalis (Pseudofumaria lutea)

The yellow fumewort spreads by self-sowing and thus brings even the most unexpected and apparently inhospitable places in the garden bloom.

Profile of yellow fumewort:

Scientific name: Pseudofumaria lutea

Plant family: poppy family (Papaveraceae), subfamily fumitory family (Fumariaceae)

Other names: yellow corydalis, rock fumewort

Sowing time: autumn

Planting time: spring to autumn

Flowering period: May until October

Location: semi-shady to shady

Soil quality: stony to loamy, calcipholous, moderately nutritious, humus rich

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: single position, group planting, planters, dry stone walls, under planting, overgrowth, borders, cottage garden, natural garden, rock garden, potted garden

Toxicity: toxic

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6 (-23 °C / -5 °F)

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of yellow fumewort

Plant order, origin and occurrence of yellow fumewort

The yellow corydalis or yellow fumewort, as it is also called in the meantime, is assigned to the genus Pseudofumaria from the poppy family (Papaveraceae). Botanically it is called Pseudofumaria lutea today, but it is still often sold under its old name Corydalis lutea. Naturally, it probably only grows in the southern Alps, especially in Italy, but also as far as Croatia. However, it is escaped in many places where it is warm and mild enough in winter, whether in Europe or on other continents. It even became natural in cities because it likes to spread by self-sowing. The plants contain toxic alkaloids, especially in the tuber.

Characteristics of yellow fumewort


Depending on the location, the perennial herbaceous plants reach heights of 15 to 35 centimeters (6 to 14 in). The shoots, which are richly branched from the ground up, lead to a very bushy growth. Although Pseudofumaria lutea belongs to the poppy family, the shoots do not contain milky juice.


On the smooth shoots it light green, sometimes shimmering bluish-green, filigree and compound leaves. They are hairless, alternate and double to triple pinnate. The single leaf is often lobed at the front. The plants are summer green, so they pull back over the winter.


The yellow flowers open for months, from May to September or even October. They are hermaphrodite, up to 2 centimeters (0.8 in) long, and consist of two mirror-like halves and a striking spur. Four to twenty single flowers are arranged in racemose inflorescences, protruding in various directions.


The seeds are in double-layered, slightly sticky capsule fruits. They gradually ripen from July and are then spread by ants and self-seeding.

Yellow fumewort – cultivation and care


The yellow fumewort prefers semi-shady to shady places, whereby it also chooses sunny spots in the garden or in cities by self-seed. The plants also love high humidity.


A well-drained and humus-rich subsoil is considered optimal, and should not be wet neither too dry. However, it will soon become clear that Pseudofumaria lutea is looking for its own favorite location – and this can also be completely different soils or places where there is hardly any soil, such as cracks in the walls and stone joints. Lime-rich locations are preferred.

Planting yellow fumewort

If you buy the perennials in a pot, i.e. with a firm root ball, you can theoretically plant them from spring to autumn. Keep a distance of 20 to 30 centimeters (8 to 12 in) from the neighboring plants.


Short dry periods are no problem for grown specimens. For a long-lasting flowering, keep the soil evenly moist.


The yellow fumewort needs no care, especially if it has chosen the place where it wants to grow. If you find the self-sowing too abundant, cut or snap off the wilting flowers so that the seed does not ripen and hence not spread. Otherwise, the plants can be easily removed by pulling them out.


The plants actually propagate by their own by having their seeds distributed by ants in the garden. If necessary, simply pull out seedlings and plant them somewhere else, even in a pot. You can also collect the seeds and sprinkle them yourself. Since the yellow fumewort is a cold germ, the seeds must be exposed to a long cold period after they have been sown.

Diseases and pests

The yellow fumewort is robust at the right location and has no problems with plant diseases and pests – only snails like to nibble on it occasionally.


The yellow fumewort is hardy down to -23 °C / -5 °F.

Use in the garden

Plant the yellow fumewort in the rock garden, in trays, on dry stone walls, under deciduous trees or on the edge of the wood. Over time, it will also appear elsewhere or leave the intended place to grow elsewhere. In shady to semi-shady places, for example, umbrosa sedge (Carex umbrosa), dead nettle (Lamium), ferns, hostas or astilbe are suitable. They also cover the gaps left by the yellow fumewort after flowering. Pseudofumaria lutea also harmonizes very nicely with lenten roses (Helleborus Orientalis hybrids), liverwort (Hepatica) and lungwort (Pulmonaria).


There is only the wild species of yellow fumewort on the market. A very similar species is the white corydalis (Pseudofumaria alba).

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