Aquilegia Express: Red Columbines

Aquilegia eximia, Van Houtte’s columbine

Van Houtteā€™s columbine is native to central to northern coastal California east into the higher elevation Sierra Nevada.

Aquilegia eximia
In this close-up image of Aquilegia eximia the absence of blades from the flower allows this species of columbine to be readily identifiable. Photo by Brad Kelly.

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

Aquilegia eximia ranges in height from 50 to 100 cm. The foliage is densely glandular pubescent and the leaves are green above and glaucous below. The red and yellow flowers are nodding. The sepals are yellow at the very base and red otherwise, 10 to 55 mm long and perpendicular to reflexed. This is the only species of columbine to have no blades. The spurs are red, 16 to 30 mm long and straight. The stamens extend beyond the base of the flower.

Aquilegia eximia is found growing in damp rocky places from the coast into higher elevations and is commonly found in seeps on serpentine.

Aquilegia eximia plant
As is typical with all the red flowering columbines, the flowers are nodding. Photo by G. A. Cooper, Smithsonian.

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