Aquilegia canadensis Indiana Dunes

Family:     Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     15-90 cm (.5-3 ft)

Blooming: April-June.


Wild Columbine

Aquilegia canadensis  L.

Flowers: drooping, yellow 5-parted 3.8 cm (1.5 in) long flowers with red sepals and long pointed corolla tubes glowing like a lantern in the dark. Yellow petals add an aesthetically pleasing combination of colors. 

Leaves: Compound (or two or three times compound) and ultimately divided into three lobed gray-green leaflets up to 7.6 cm (3 in) long. The leaves form basal rosettes and alternate up the stem.

Fruits: Five erect, tan, dry, papery follicles with long beaks.

Sun: Full to part sun

Ideal conditions: Tolerant of various soil, light, and moisture (except wet) conditions.

INPAWS Native Communities: Woodland (shade)

Comments: Wild columbine is the only native columbine in Northwest Indiana. An escaped ornamental columbine, garden columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris), is the only other columbine found in natural habitats in NW Indiana. These are easy to distinguish from the native by its  strongly incurved spurs on the flowers and its purple, white or pink color rather than the native's red and yellow color.


Etymology: Other common names are red columbine and Canadian columbine. Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for eagle, aqiulam. This is due to the flower shapes looking like eagle fingers. The common name, columbine, is derived from the Latin word for dove or pigeon, columba.  


photo by Nathanael Pilla

Aquilegia canadensis INDU

Landscape: Seeding profusely allows for years of new plants.  It attracts hummingbirds, moths, and other long-tongued insects.  The foliage without the flowers is soft treat for the eyes, and the flower being a brilliant meal for those gazing upon it.  It is perfect for a shaded or partially shaded area in your landscape.  Deer prefer not to eat this plant making it a good addition to the deer stricken garden.

photo by Nathanael Pilla

photo by Scott Namestnik

Species Present and Native