Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!


Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or you can choose a plant family:
Aquilegia flavescens (Yellow mountain columbine)
Beckers, Eric

Aquilegia flavescens

Aquilegia flavescens S. Watson

Yellow Mountain Columbine, Yellow Columbine, Golden Columbine

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)


USDA Symbol: aqfl

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

Delicate, mainly basal leaves, 3-parted and 2-3 times lobed, subtend the nodding, slender-spurred, yellow flowers of this perennial. Floral spurs incurved to form hooks. The plant may be simple-stemmed or branched and rises 8-30 in. in height. A bushy, yellow mountain wildflower.

A usually yellow-flowered columbine of western North American mountains from British Columbia and Alberta south to Utah at elevations of 1300 to 3500 meters. An attractive option for cool, shady gardens within that region, its flowers range from whitish to yellow, sometimes tinged with pink, especially where its populations mingle with A. formosa.

Although the ranges of A. flavescens and A. formosa largely overlap, the two plants rarely grow in immediate proximity, the former requiring a more alpine habitat. Where they do coexist, they often cross freely, producing an intermediate phase that has been called A. flavescens var. miniana. In this variety the sepals are pinkish. 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

1 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous , Pilose
Leaf Margin: Crenate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Terminal
Fruit Type: Follicle
Size Notes: Up to about 30 inches tall.
Leaf: Green.
Flower: Flowers 12-22 mm long.
Fruit: Follicles 18-27 mm, seeds black.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Color ranges from cream to yellow, sometimes tinged with pink.


USA: CO , ID , MT , OR , UT , WA , WY
Canada: AB , BC , SK
Native Distribution: S.e. B.C. to n.e. OR, e. to Alt., CO, & UT
Native Habitat: Moist mt. meadows, open woods, slopes, & rock slides, from 1300-3500 m

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist, rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: Best in conditions that mimic its native, high-elevation environment.


Use Ornamental: An attractive, yellow columbine for cool, shady, preferably montane areas of western North America.
Use Wildlife: Hummingbirds, other pollinators
Use Food: Some reports of the flowers being edible, but caution is advised as many Aquilegia species are toxic.
Warning: Many Aquilegia species are toxic if consumed.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes


Propagation Material: Seeds
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.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

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

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 26 - Minnesota Wildflowers: a field guide to the flora of Minnesota (2009)
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-05-04
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back