Aquilegia Express: Blue Columbines

Aquilegia saximontana, Rocky Mountain blue columbine

The Rocky Mountain blue columbine is endemic to small area of the Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado.

Aquilegia saximontana
Aquilegia saximontana is known from several counties in Colorado in the alpine and subalpine elevations of the Rocky Mountains. Photo by Steve Olson.

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

Aquilegia saximontana ranges in height from 5 to 25 cm. The foliage is glabrous and the leaves are green above and glaucous below. The flowers are nodding. The sepals are blue, 10 to 12 mm long, and spreading. The blades are cream colored, 7 to 8 mm long. The spurs are hooked, blue, 3 to 9 mm long. The stamens do not extend beyond the blades.

Aquilegia saximontana is found growing on rocky slopes in alpine and subalpine areas.

Aquilegia saximontana plant
Notice that the spurs are “hooked,” an unusual morphology for spurs from the North American species of columbines. Photo by Gary Monroe.

Aquilegia saximontana growing in a crevice.
Aquilegia saximontana growing in a crevice in an outcrop of granite where sufficient moisture is available for the plant to grow. Photo by Steve Olson.

Conservation Concern

Aquilegia saximontana is a narrow endemic and is ranked G3, vulnerable by NatureServe.

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