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Similar but less problematic plants:
Aquilegia chrysantha Aquilegia chrysantha
Aquilegia canadensis is often confused with:
Thalictrum aquilegiifolium Thalictrum aquilegifolium
Thalictrum dioicum Thalictrum dioicum
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Salvia lyrata Salvia lyrata
Symplocos tinctoria Symplocos tinctoria
Viola sororia Viola papilionacea

Canadian Columbine Aquilegia canadensis

Phonetic Spelling
ah-kwih-LEE-jee-ah kan-ah-DEN-sis
Description

Wild columbine is a native herbaceous biennial in the Ranunculaceae (ranunculus) family. The name is derived from the Latin word for eagle as the flower petals resemble an eagle’s claw. 

Wild columbine prefers partial shade conditions but will tolerate more sun with adequate moisture. It prefers organically rich, moist soil like that in its native forest home. It may grow 3 feet tall by 1.5 feet wide. The red and yellow flowers mature in early spring and can last one month. These tubular flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumblebees. Once the flowers are gone the plant makes an attractive ground cover. When the foliage deteriorates it can be cut to the ground. Columbine freely self seeds, and new plants will bloom the second year. 

This plant was selected as the 1987 NC Wildflower of the Year, a program managed by the North Carolina Botanical Garden with some financial support from the Garden Club of North Carolina.

Use this plant in woodland habitats, naturalized areas, shady garden borders, native gardens, or pollinator gardens. It is deer resistant.

Quick ID Hints: 

  • Alternate leaves
  • Leaves are deeply lobed 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Leaf miner is generally a problem for columbine, but this species is resistant. 

 

 

 VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Annuals, Perennials, Vines, and Groundcovers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens. 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Part Shade Garden Davidson County Demo Garden Collector’s Garden Part Shade Garden Native/ Woodland Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Corbett’
    Dwarf with yellow flowers
  • ‘Little Lanterns’
    10" tall with blue-green foliage and red and yellow blooms
  • ‘Nana’
    Yellow flowers
  • ‘Pink Lanterns’
    Pink and white flowers
‘Corbett’, ‘Little Lanterns’, ‘Nana’, ‘Pink Lanterns’
Tags:
#hummingbirds#perennials#wildlife plants#spring flowers#apvg#ncemgva2018#food source wildlife#cpp#fire#medium flammability#bumblebees#NC native#deer resistant#native garden#spring interest#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#naturalized area#food source summer#food source nectar#food source pollen#Piedmont Mountains FAC#bird friendly#nectar plant late spring#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-spring#Coastal FACU#nectar plant early spring#partial shade tolerant#HS302#apvg-p#pollinator garden#audubon#NC Wildflower of the Year
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Corbett’
    Dwarf with yellow flowers
  • ‘Little Lanterns’
    10" tall with blue-green foliage and red and yellow blooms
  • ‘Nana’
    Yellow flowers
  • ‘Pink Lanterns’
    Pink and white flowers
‘Corbett’, ‘Little Lanterns’, ‘Nana’, ‘Pink Lanterns’
Tags:
#hummingbirds#perennials#wildlife plants#spring flowers#apvg#ncemgva2018#food source wildlife#cpp#fire#medium flammability#bumblebees#NC native#deer resistant#native garden#spring interest#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#naturalized area#food source summer#food source nectar#food source pollen#Piedmont Mountains FAC#bird friendly#nectar plant late spring#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-spring#Coastal FACU#nectar plant early spring#partial shade tolerant#HS302#apvg-p#pollinator garden#audubon#NC Wildflower of the Year
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Aquilegia
    Species:
    canadensis
    Family:
    Ranunculaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Biennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North America
    Distribution:
    AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV Canada: MB , NB , NS , ON , QC , SK
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Provides nectar to bumblebees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators. The seeds may be eaten by songbirds.  Deer resistant.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Leaf miner
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3b, 3a, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Follicle
    Fruit Description:
    5 pod-shaped follicles with long beaks that split open along one side to release the shiny black seeds. Displays from April to August.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Description:
    1-2 inch flowers appear singly or groups of 2-3, are drooping, spurred, and bell-like. Red and yellow flowers have 5 petals, 5 petal-like sepals, and strongly exerted stamens and styles. Its spurs point upward. Blooms from March to May.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are ternately compound (divided into groups of 3 leaflets). Each leaflet is up to 3" long and 2" across. Leaflets are oval with deep rounded lobes, basal and alternate on the stem.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    stems are green to reddish-green and may or may not have hairs
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Naturalized Area
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Fairy Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer