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Aquilegia longissima (Longspur columbine)
Anderson, Wynn

Aquilegia longissima

Aquilegia longissima A. Gray

Longspur Columbine, Longspur Yellow Columbine

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A yellow-flowered Southwestern columbine 1-3 feet tall. Flowers somewhat pale yellow but with dramatically long spurs 10-15 cm long. Petal blades are 15-30 mm in length. Leaflets to 4 cm long, carried on 30 cm petioles. Native to moist canyons from southern Arizona and the Chisos and Davis Mountains of west Texas, south into mountains of adjacent northern Mexico.

This is one of the most striking of the popular Southwestern yellow columbines, owing to its very long flower spurs. Its flowers tend to be a paler yellow than those of Aquilegia chrysantha, but vary in intensity. Like other Southwestern yellow columbines, it requires adequate shade, sufficient moisture, and well-drained soil.

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


From the Image Gallery

11 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen
Leaf Shape: Obovate
Leaf Venation: Palmate
Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous
Leaf Margin: Cleft
Leaf Texture: Smooth
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Follicle
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Leaf: Glaucous green.
Flower: Flowers 6-11 mm long.
Fruit: Follicles green to dark grey, 25 mm long. Seeds black, to 2 mm.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: Color usually a paler yellow than in Aquilegia chrysantha


Native Distribution: From the Davis and Chisos Mountains in west Texas and mountains of southern Arizona south into mountains of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Nuevo Leon
Native Habitat: Moist canyons near water sources

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, limestone or igneous sands and loams, often rocky
Conditions Comments: Requires shade, consistent moisture, and good drainage. Will become stressed in unremitting full sun, causing the leaves to fade and curl.


Use Ornamental: Handsome foliage and dramatic blooms for Southwestern shade gardens
Use Wildlife: Attracts moths and butterflies. Pollinated by long-tongued moths.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Nectar Source: yes


Propagation Material: Clump Division , Seeds
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Remove spent seedheads for a neater look. Insure adequate moisture. To prevent hybridization with other kinds of columbine, keep far away from other columbine species and varieties.

National Wetland Indicator Status

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 on display at the following locations:

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX


Bibref 293 - Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (1979) Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2019-06-19
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG

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