Aquilegia Express: Yellow Columbines

Aquilegia pubescens, Sierra columbine

The Sierra columbine is endemic to the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Aquilegia pubescens flower
As displayed with this and the following images, white erect flowers are characteristic of columbines that are pollinated by hawk moths. Photo by John O’Neill.

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

Aquilegia pubescens ranges in height from 20 to 50 cm. The foliage is green not glaucous, the stems are glandular pubescent and the leaves are glabrous to sometimes pilose. The flowers are erect. The sepals are cream to yellow or pink, 15 to 25 mm long, and perpendicular. The blades are cream to yellow, 8 to 17 mm long. The spurs are cream, yellow, or pink, 25 to 40 mm long and straight to slightly divergent. The stamens extend beyond the blades.

Aquilegia pubescens flowers.
Aquilegia pubescens. Photo by Mike Uhler.

Aquilegia pubescens flowers.
Aquilegia pubescens. Photo by John O’Neill.

A hawkmoth approaching a Sierra columbine flower.
A hawkmoth approaching a Sierra columbine flower. Photo by Hodge.

The hawkmoth moves into contact with the stamens and stigma while sipping nectar from spurs.
The hawkmoth moves into contact with the stamens and stigma while sipping nectar from spurs. Photo by Hodge.

Aquilegia pubescens occurs in high elevation alpine habitats where moisture is available.

Aquilegia pubescens habitat.
Aquilegia pubescens in a typical habitat, an alpine meadow with a beautiful alpine lake in the background. Photo by Mike Uhler.

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