Enum. Pl. 2: 740. 1809.
Plants winter annual or biennial, glaucous, from ± branched caudices. Stems 10-50, prostrate-ascending, 2-3.5 dm. Leaves compound; blade with 3 orders of leaflets and lobes; ultimate lobes elliptic, 1.5 times or more longer than wide, margins incised, apex subapiculate. Inflorescences racemose, 10-20(-30)-flowered, primary racemes shorter than to slightly exceeding leaves, secondary racemes fewer flowered; bracts elliptic to linear, 4-10 × 1-2 mm, rarely larger, margins often denticulate toward apex, distal bracts usually much reduced. Flowers at first erect, later reflexed; pedicel 5-10 mm; sepals ovate to attenuate-ovate, to 1-3 mm, margins often sinuate or dentate; petals pale to bright yellow; spurred petal 13-16 mm, spur straight or slightly incurved, 4-5 mm, apex subglobose, crest low and incised or absent, marginal wing moderately to well developed, unspurred outer petal 9-11 mm, crest same as that of spurred petal; inner petals oblanceolate, 8-10 mm, blade wider than claw and more prominently winged toward apex, claw 3.5-4.5 mm; nectariferous spur 2-3 mm; style ca. 3 mm; stigma 2-lobed, 1/2 as long as wide, with 8 papillae. Capsules erect to pendent at maturity, linear, often torulose, slender to somewhat stout, straight to moderately incurved, 12-24(-30) mm. Seeds nearly 2 mm diam., appearing essentially smooth under magnification, narrow marginal ring present or absent.
Alta., B.C., Man., N.W.T., Ont., Que., Sask., Yukon, Alaska, Ariz., Calif., Colo., Idaho, Ill., Kans., Mich., Minn., Mo., Mont., N.Dak., N.H., N.Mex., N.Y., Nebr., Nev., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., S.Dak., Tex., Utah, Vt., Wash., Wis., Wyo., Mexico.
Subspecies 2 (2 in the flora).
The Navaho used Corydalis aurea medicinally for a variety of ailments, including rheumatism, diarrhea, sores on the hands, stomachaches, menstrual problems, and sore throats, and as a general disinfectant (D. E. Moerman 1986, no subspecies cited).
|1||Capsules slender, pendent or spreading at maturity, usually 18–24 mm; seeds without marginal ring; leaves generally exceeding racemes.||Corydalis aurea subsp. aurea|
|1||Capsules stout, erect at maturity, 12–20 mm; seeds with narrow marginal ring; racemes generally exceeding leaves.||Corydalis aurea subsp. occidentalis|