Wild columbine is a herbaceous perennial, native to North America. The unusual, spur-shaped, red and yellow flowers hang downward from sparsely branched stems in late spring to early summer. A perfect addition for naturalizing and shady gardens.
This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All common names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Mixed border
- Large plant (more than 24 inches),
- Medium plant (12-24 inches)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
- Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Alkaline soil,
- Dry soil,
- Sandy soil
- Occasional drought,
- Alkaline soil
Seasons of Interest:
- mid spring,
- late spring,
- early summer
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
A 1 to 3 foot high, sparsely branched herbaceous perennial
Best in part shade to light sun in moist to dry conditions.
Tolerant of wide range of soil from sandy to rocky loam.
Plants tolerant of full sun with adequate moisture once established
Disease, pests, and problems
Resistant to leaf miner
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Deer, rabbit, drought and dry soil
Native geographic location and habitat
Found in rocky open woodlands, wooded slopes, sandy savannas, and cliff bluffs in North American.
It is the only columbine native to IL
Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife
Hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators
Mounds of basal ternately compound (divided into groups of 3 leaflets) leaves
Each 3 inches long and 2 inches wide; upper surface glabrous with a whitish bloom
Foliage is toxic
Round stems that are red to green and fuzzy hold the individual or in groups of 3 flowers
Each flower is 1 1/2 inch long and hangs downward.
Showy flowers consist of 5 yellow petals, 5 red, petal-like sepals and many long yellow anthers and stamens.
The base of the flower has long red to reddish-purple nectar spurs.
Flowers in late spring to early summer, lasting 3 to 4 weeks.
Each flower produces a 5 pod-shaped follicle with a long beak; seeds are shiny black
Cultivars and other species and their differences
Corbett wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis 'Corbett'): A short mound reaching 8 to 12 inches high; yellow flowers in May and June
Little Lanterns wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis 'Little Lanterns'): compact, 12 to 18 inches high and 18 to 24 inches wide; scarlet red flowers with showy yellow corolla
Fan Columbine (Aquilegia flabellata): compact, 12 to 18 inches high and 12 inches wide; waxy nodding flowers, lilac-blue with short curving spurs; blue green compound leaves; great for rock gardens
Dwarf White Fan columbine (Aquilegia flabellata 'Nana Alba'): compact, less than 12 inches high; white flowers
Ministar Fan columbine (Aquilegia flabellata 'Ministar'): 6 to 12 inches high and wide; blue and white nodding flowers; blue-green foliage