Although this species is known from several countries in western Europe, a large proportion of the global population is found in the United Kingdom. It grows in most counties in Britain especially the more western ones, but is absent from Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides and rare in Ireland.
This delicate looking plant is a hairless annual (or occasionally perennial) up to a metre tall with weak, often pinkish, clambering stems. The leaves are pale to medium green, doubly compound, the leaflets being well-stalked and divided into three to five sub-leaflets, and ending in a branching tendril. The flowers are small, pale creamy-yellow, in short axilliary spikes. Each flower is elongated and tubular with a lip and spur and stamens in two bundles. The seed pods are short, usually narrowing between the two seeds.
Climbing corydalis tends to grow on the edges of woodlands and previously wooded sites. It prefers acid soils, sandy or peaty, and usually in sheltered and half shaded positions. It is sometimes abundant in disturbed parts of recently cleared plantations or woods, clambering over wood debris. It grows well in impoverished soil under bracken, perhaps because it flowers early in the year before the fronds develop fully. It is the food plant for the weevil, Procas granulicollis and the beetle, Sirocalodes mixtus.
- "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
- Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland Archived February 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- McClintock, D. and Fitter, R. The Pocket Guide to Wild Flowers. Collins (1955)
- BioInfo (UK) Archived July 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.