Advanced Search Filters

Plant Type
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
Sunset Zone
Function
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Water Requirement

AQUILEGIA atrata

Image of Aquilegia atrata

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Ranunculaceae

Botanical Name

AQUILEGIA atrata

Plant Common Name

Columbine, Dark Columbine

General Description

An alpine columbine from Central Europe and the Alps, dark columbine offers loads of delicate plum-purple flowers in spring. Native populations inhabit rocky outcrops at high to medium altitudes, so this is an ideal species for rock gardens. Like most Aquilegia, this is a spring bloomer that offers little to no ornamental interest when not in bloom.

Columbines are hardy, clump-forming perennials that often grow from small slender woody rhizomes (underground lateral stems). The small delicate, thin leaves appear in branches of three and have three scalloped lobes. They appear the spring and form mounded clumps. The foliage of this species is pale green to gray green.

The intricate, nodding blooms of dark columbine are held on slender stems of moderate length. Each dark purple flower has prominent, hollow, nectar-holding spurs that extend backwards. These are flanked by five petal-like sepals called tepals. A flush of showy yellow stamens protrudes from the center of each insect-pollinated bloom. Dry, five-parted capsule fruits called follicles follow. Small black seeds shake down from mature follicles like rain.

Dark columbine is generally easy to grow and thrives in full to partial sun and porous, rocky soil with good drainage. As with most alpine species, avoid planting in areas where high heat and drought are prevalent. Columbines readily self-sow, so deadhead quickly if you don’t want seedlings appearing here and there. Enjoy this beauty in a rock garden or sunny border with good drainage.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 8

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    12"-18" / 30.5cm - 45.7cm

  • Width

    8"-12" / 20.3cm - 30.5cm

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Europe

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Purple, Plum, Black

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Light Green, Gray Green, Yellow Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Alpine, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes