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

 Native Plant Database

Aquilegia formosa

Western columbine, Crimson columbine, Scarlet columbine, Red columbine

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Aquilegia formosa (Western columbine)
Hixson, John
An open-branched, 2-3 ft. perennial with delicate, blue-green, lobed foliage and pendent, yellow and red, spurred flowers. Handsome red and yellow flowers hang at ends of branches above this bushy plant with several stems and many divided leaves. The flowers of this species are slightly smaller than those of A. eximia.

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. The species name formosa, Latin for beautiful, aptly describes this large plant, especially when it has hundreds of lovely flowers nodding over it. There are other species with mostly red flowers, which also attract hummingbirds as pollinators. The nectar was eaten as a candy by the Gitxsan and Wetsuweten peoples.

Image Gallery:

11 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

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

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Yellow
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AK , CA , ID , MT , NV , OR , UT , WA , WY
Canada: AB , BC , YT
Native Distribution: N. Baja CA to UT, n. to s. AK & w. Alt.
Native Habitat: Moist, open woods, banks & seeps; 4000-9000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Moist, rocky soils, but will grow in dry, nutrient poor soil.
Conditions Comments: This columbine readily maintains itself from seed.


Use Wildlife: Columbine attracts hummingbirds.
Use Food: The nectar was eaten as a candy by the Gitxsan and Wetsuweten peoples. The young leaves of variety truncata were gathered before flowering, boiled, and eaten as greens by indigenous peoples of California.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds

Last Update: 2014-06-25