Aquilegia Express: Red Columbines

Aquilegia elegantula, western red columbine

The western red columbine occurs in southeastern Utah into southwestern Colorado south into New Mexico and extreme northeastern Arizona.

Aquilegia elegantula
As with all the red flowered columbines, Aquilegia elegantula is one of the first wildflowers available for hummingbirds to gather nectar from in the spring. Photo by Steve Olson.

Map of the range of Aquilegia elegantula in North America.
Range map of Aquilegia elegantula. Courtesy of Flora of North America.

Aquilegia elegantula ranges in height from 10 to 60 cm. The foliage is green and the leaves are green, glabrous above, glaucous, and glabrous below. The flowers nod and are the narrowest of the red columbines. The sepals are yellowish green at the tips becoming red towards their base, 7 to 10 mm long and straight to barely spreading. The blades are yellow, 6 to 8 mm long. The spurs are red, straight, 16 to 24 mm long, and broad at the base, abruptly narrow in the middle and bulging at the tip. The stamens extend beyond the blades.

Aquilegia elegantula is found growing in moist coniferous forests and along streams.

Aquilegia elegantula plant
Aquilegia elegantula in a typical habitat, sunny openings near the base of rocks where water seeps out into the adjoining soil. Photo by Steve Olson.

Aquilegia elegantula plant
Aquilegia elegantula in a typical habitat. Photo by Al Schneider.

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