wild columbine

(Aquilegia canadensis)

Conservation Status
wild columbine
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FAC - Facultative


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Wild columbine is a 1 to 3 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises from a stout taproot and thin, woody rhizomes.

Basal leaves emerge in the early spring on long stems. The leaves are much shorter than the stems. They are divided into groups of 3 leaflets that are up to 3 long and 2 wide. Each leaflet is divided again into 3 triangular or wedge-shaped lobes. The lobes are often themselves divided into 2 or more secondary lobes that resemble large, rounded teeth. The leaflets may be stalked or unstalked, with both types occurring on the same plant. The upper surface of the leaf is hairless and may be somewhat covered with a whitish, waxy bloom (glaucous). The lower surface is glaucous and may be finely hairy near the base.

In the late spring stems are produced. The stems are slender, sparingly branched, hollow, cylindrical, and hairless, though they may be slightly hairy on the upper portion.

Stem leaves are alternate and similar to the basal leaves but smaller and on shorter stalks. They become progressively smaller with shorter stalks as they ascend the stem. The leaves are often tinged with red, sometimes just near the margins.

The inflorescence is a solitary flower or pair of flowers at the end of a branch.

The flowers are showy and hang downward at the end of a long, erect flower stalk. They are 1 to 2 long and to 1¾ wide. They have 5 petal-like, red, ¼ to ¾ long sepals, and 5 red and yellow petals. The tips of the petals are yellow and rounded. The base is a long, slender, erect or slightly-spreading, red nectar spur with a slightly-enlarged tip. Yellow stamens and styles project well beyond the petals. There is no fragrance.

The fruits are 5 erect pods, each to 1¼ long with a beak to ½ long.




1 to 3


Flower Color


Red with yellow centers


Similar Species


Smallflower columbine (Aquilegia brevistyla) has smaller, blue and white flowers. The spurs are hooked at the tip. It has been recorded only in Clay County.

Purple meadow-rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum) is usually much taller. The leaves appear similar but are less deeply lobed.


Dry. Woodland edges, river banks. Full sun to full shade.




May to July


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Ranunculanae  


Ranunculales (buttercups, poppies, and allies)  


Ranunculaceae (buttercup)  
  Subfamily Thalictroideae (columbines and meadow-rues)  


Aquilegia (columbines)  

Subordinate Taxa




Aquilegia australis

Aquilegia canadensis var. australis

Aquilegia canadensis var. coccinea

Aquilegia canadensis var. eminens

Aquilegia canadensis var. hybrida

Aquilegia canadensis latiscula

Aquilegia canadensis var. latiuscula

Aquilegia coccinea

Aquilegia phoenicantha


Common Names


American columbine

Canadian columbine


Colorado columbine


eastern red columbine



red columbine

wild columbine














The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.



Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

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Alfredo Colon


Red Columbine flower, Aquilegia canadiensis

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Wild columbine and wild blue phlox

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  Aquilegia canadensis (Wild Columbine)
Allen Chartier
  Aquilegia canadensis (Wild Columbine)  
  Plant portrait - Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Identify that Plant

Published on Aug 14, 2014

A detailed look at characteristics of Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). These images and narrative can help to accurately identify the plant during different seasons of the year.




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Other Videos
  Minnesota Native Plant - Canada Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis)

Published on Jun 9, 2013

This video shows the Canada Columbine, or Wild Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis).

  MyNature Apps; Identifying Wild Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis

Uploaded on May 31, 2011

How to identify Wild Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis also known as Canadian or Canada Columbine, Eastern Red Columbine, wild columbine or honeysuckle. www.mynatureapps.com

  Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Uploaded on Jun 4, 2010

http://www.prairiemoon.com - An attractive plant at Prairie Moon Nursery which will attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

  wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Published on May 11, 2012

wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)




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  Greg Watson

Location: Eagles Bluff Park in La Crescent, MN

wild columbine  
  Wayne Rasmussen

Location: Maplewood Nature Center

wild columbine  
  Wayne Rasmussen

Location: Rice Lake State Park

wild columbine  
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