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AQUILEGIA formosa

Image of Aquilegia formosa

Michael Charters, www.calflora.net

Family

Ranunculaceae

Botanical Name

AQUILEGIA formosa

Plant Common Name

Western Columbine

General Description

A larger look-alike of Canadian columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), the easy to grow western columbine is an airy, herbaceous perennial native to the western United States, Canada, and Mexico. In its native habitat it's found in rich moist forests, so it's quite shade tolerant and ideal for naturalistic woodland gardens. It has an open habit and elegant blooms.

Ferny clumps of lacy, three-parted leaves appear in spring, dying back to a few wisps in summer. In late spring to early summer, tall branched stems bear dainty, nodding, five-petaled flowers with a yellow central "cup," a starry red collar, and prominent red spurs.

Western columbine grows best in moist, well-drained soil and partial to full sun. It can be short-lived but self-sows gently and will naturalize over time. Like most columbines, it hybridizes freely. Deadhead spent flowers immediately if you don’t want new plants to seed in. The leaves of all columbine may be damaged by leaf miners and sawfly larvae.

Plant these in any woodland or informal shaded border. Hummingbirds and bees are highly attracted to its nectar-rich flowers while small songbirds release the seeds. After flowering plants offer little to no ornamental interest, so be sure to interplant them with annuals and perennials that look pretty later in the season.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    7 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    24"-36" / 61.0cm - 91.4cm

  • Width

    12"-20" / 30.5cm - 50.8cm

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Western United States, Northwestern United States, Alaska, California, Canada, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • 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

    Yellow, Red, Orange, Orange Red

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Multi-Color

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Sea Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Light Green, Blue 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

    Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes