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Aquilegia formosa (Western columbine)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Aquilegia formosa

Aquilegia formosa Fisch. ex DC.

Western columbine, Crimson columbine, Scarlet columbine, Red columbine

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Synonym(s): Aquilegia formosa var. communis, Aquilegia formosa var. fosteri, Aquilegia formosa var. hypolasia, Aquilegia formosa var. megalantha, Aquilegia formosa var. pauciflora, Aquilegia formosa var. truncata, Aquilegia formosa var. wawawensis, Aquilegia fosteri, Aquilegia mohavensis, Aquilegia shockleyi

USDA Symbol: aqfo

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N)

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.

 

Plant Characteristics

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

Bloom Information

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

Distribution

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: Dry , Moist
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.

Benefit

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

Propagation

Description: Easily propagated by seed. Seedlings around parent plant appear in summer and can be moved the following spring.
Seed Collection: Seeds may ripen and be shed before the pod has turned brown. If seeds in greenish follicles are black, they are ready to collect. Cut the fruiting stalk and keep in a dry bag for a few days until the seeds shake free.
Seed Treatment: Seeds require no pretreatment.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Alternative names for Aquilegia Sanguinaria
May 03, 2006
I am looking for the common name for a flower called Aquilegia Sanguinaria. Can you help? Does this even exist?
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACU FAC FAC
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX

Additional resources

USDA: Find Aquilegia formosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Aquilegia formosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Aquilegia formosa

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2013-04-04
Research By: TWC Staff

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