Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of Sarah Newman.

Colorado blue columbine

Scientific name
Aquilegia caerulea
Also Known As
Rocky mountain columbine
Plant Family
Plant Group
Colorado blue columbines flowers hang down with five upward claw-like pointing spurs. The leaves are divided in three and each leaf has three lobes.
Identification Hints

Colorado blue columbines flowers are blue-to purple and white and hang down with five upward claw-like pointing spurs. The leaves are divided in three and each leaf has three lobes.

Did You Know?

Aquilegia is the Latin term for eagle; the five flower spurs of this plant resemble eagle talons. While most authors have spelled the epithet "caerulea," the original spelling is "coerulea." It has been noted that an infusion made from the roots of Aquilegia caerulea was used by the Gosivte tribe to treat abdominal pains or as a panacea. Colorado blue columbine is the state flower of Colorado, whose state song also happens to be "Where the Columbines Grow" (A.J. Fynn, 1915).

Nativar Research Project: Contribute your pollinator observations of this native plant and three of its cultivars. Are pollinators as attracted to the nativars as they are to the original native plant?  Read more at the Nativar Research Project page.

Songbird Cardinal - red, of course.  Songbird dove - white  Songbird Nightingale - magenta  Colorado Violet and White

Leaves
Smooth, light-green leaves with lobed and deeply-cleft leaflets that vaguely resemble clover leaves.
Flowers
Flowers vary greatly in color, ranging from pale blue to white, pale yellow, and some are even tinged with pink. The flowers are very showy, and each petal has a large spur extending upward where the nectar is located. There are five sepals, which look like petals and extend beyond the true petals to form a star shape. Then, a group of five rounded petals, with backward-extending, straight and slender spurs to 2 in (5 cm). These are typically upward-facing flowers, 2 to 3 in across (5 to 8 cm). Late spring to early summer.
Fruits
Five, brown, clustered follicles (a dry capsule containing seeds) appear star-like. There are many seeds inside that will be released when the follicle opens.
Habitat
Partly shady, moist, well drained, sandy-loamy, organic rich soil in moderate to montane elevations. Found in mountain regions of the western United States including: Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Colorado.
States