PLANT OF THE MONTH: Pale Corydalis

Posted on  by ridgetownrick

November in southwestern Ontario means frosts, the first snowfall, and not much left flowering in the garden. In my garden there is one plant – Capnoides sempervirens – that looks wonderfully delicate, but those looks are deceiving. This tough little drought tolerant plant is one of the last to keep blooming – some years I have seen it flowering even after being buried by the first snowfall for several days.   

This month’s Plant of the Month features Pale Corydalis (aka Rock Harlequin), a plant that Native Plant Gardening author Lorraine Johnson includes in her Dec 22, 2021 blog entitled “Ghost Plants”. These are plants that, in her words “are difficult to find at nurseries but that would be fabulous additions to gardens and, I’m sure, snapped up by gardeners if they were commercially available” ( I heartily agree – especially for this one. 

Common Name: Pale Corydalis 

ARTICLE: A Marsh Marigold by Any Other Name

Posted on  by ridgetownrick

William Shakespeare, in his play Romeo and Juliet, wrote “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. So why does it matter what we call it, then? And why do people like me sometimes get so frustrated when folks use common names instead of the scientific names for plants? In today’s article, I want to explore the benefits, and in some cases the frustrations, of using scientific names for our native plants instead of (or, at least, in addition to) the common names. 

“Latin is a dead language, so why do we use it for plants?” The simple answer – tradition. However, every plant has but one “scientific name”, or scientific binomial, that is unique to that plant, whereas it may have 2 or 3 (and, in some cases, dozens of) common names. What’s worse, the same common name is often used for many different plants.  

For instance, as I pointed out in last month’s blog post, when I talk about Black-eyed Susans, I could be referring to Rudbeckia hirta (an annual/biennial) or Rudbeckia fulgida (a perennial, also known as Orange Coneflower) or even Rudbeckia triloba (a perennial also known as Brown eyed Susan) depending on what part of the country you are in.  

Is Wild Columbine the same plant as Eastern Red Columbine? Yes, it is. It is also known as Cluckies in some parts. In other areas they call it Jack-in-trousers. But it is also known as Rock Lily. All these common names, yet it has only one scientific name – Aquilegia canadensis.  


The Northeast Native Plant Primer: 235 Plants for an Earth-Friendly Garden

By Uli Lorimer

A beautiful but brief synopsis of native trees, shrubs, vines, wildflowers, ferns, grasses, sedges and rushes suitable for gardens in the northeastern US and southeastern Canada (from the Maritimes through southern Quebec and into southern Ontario). I’ll start by saying that the quality of the book and the images is fabulous – just what I’d expect from Timber Press. I love just looking at the pictures. Unfortunately, at least from a serious native plant gardener perspective, that’s about where it ends.

Other Random Stuff

Coming soon!