Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Aquilegia coerulea

Colorado blue columbine, Rocky Mountain columbine

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Aquilegia coerulea (Colorado blue columbine)
Beckers, Eric
The large, upright, blue and white flowers of this popular wildflower are long-spurred and rise above deeply cut, light-green foliage. This short-lived perennial grows 1-2 ft. tall.

The Colorado state flower as Aquilegia caerula, an orthographic variant of the originally published name. Popular in cultivation, with several color phases and double flowers. Hybridization with other species has produced further cultivated varieties. Phases in the wild with pale or white sepals are frequent. A species with blue sepals and white petal tips, but only 2-8 inches (5-20 cm) tall, is Alpine Blue Columbine (A. saximontana), whose blue spurs are hooked at the tip; it grows high in the Colorado mountains.

The genus name Aquilegia comes from the Latin aquila which means eagle and refers to the spurred petals that many believe resemble an eagles talons.

Image Gallery:

34 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Root Type: Tap
Leaf: Green
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AZ , CO , ID , MT , NV , NM , SD , UT , WY
Native Distribution: Mts. of s.w. MT & c. ID to n. NM & AZ
Native Habitat: Moist woods; open, mountain meadows

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist, talus & rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: Rocky Mountain columbine can be susceptible to aphids when grown in open areas. Most columbine hybrids have this species as one parent. While an individual plant may live only 4-5 years, once established, the plant will self-seed. As one goes north or west from Colorado the blue color of this species becomes less pronounced, until finally the flowers are white or cream. Also, those flowers found naturally at higher altitudes tend to be more colorful than those at lower elevations.


Use Wildlife: Provides nectar for long-tongued insects and hummingbirds.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Last Update: 2016-03-04