[Columbines: The Genus Aquilegia East of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington]

Red Columbine, Sitka Columbine, Western Columbine

Aquilegia formosa

Synonyms: Aquilegia formosa var. communis, Aquilegia formosa var. formosa, Aquilegia formosa var. fosteri, Aquilegia formosa var. hypolasia, Aquilegia formosa var. megalantha, Aquilegia formosa var. pauciflora, Aquilegia formosa var. truncata, Aquilegia formosa var. wawawensis

Close-up sideview of a flower of Red Columbine, Sitka Columbine, Western Columbine Aquilegia formosa   Synonyms: Aquilegia formosa var. communis, Aquilegia formosa var. formosa, Aquilegia formosa var. fosteri, Aquilegia formosa var. hypolasia, Aquilegia formosa var. megalantha, Aquilegia formosa var. pauciflora, Aquilegia formosa var. truncata, Aquilegia formosa var. wawawensis

The photo above shows red columbine as photographed along Hat Point Road below Horse Creek Viewpoint in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area of northeastern Oregon..........July 11, 2007.Note the 5 sepals reflexed upwards from the pendant flower, with the 5 spurred petals which are tipped with yellow. This plant was found amongst quite a few yellow columbine at this site.

Stem leaf of Red Columbine, Sitka Columbine, Western Columbine Aquilegia formosa   Synonyms: Aquilegia formosa var. communis, Aquilegia formosa var. formosa, Aquilegia formosa var. fosteri, Aquilegia formosa var. hypolasia, Aquilegia formosa var. megalantha, Aquilegia formosa var. pauciflora, Aquilegia formosa var. truncata, Aquilegia formosa var. wawawensisThe photo at right shows a close-up of a leaf of red columbine as seen at Blue Sky, Hart Mt. National Antelope Refuge.........June 25, 2003.
Characteristics:

Red columbine is one of the more distinctive and attractive wildflowers to be viewed in the Pacific Northwest. Several erect stems arise from 15-100 cm high. The stems are largely leafless, although an occasional reduced leaf may be found on the stem. The basal leaves are divided into multiples of three leaflets. These smaller leaflets are further lobed. Any stem leaves that are present are alternate and smaller representatives of the basal leaves. The upper leaf surfaces are glaucous (bluish-green) while the undersides are typically pubescent.

The flowers are irregularly shaped, with five red sepals flared to the sides, and five smaller yellow petals extending below the petals. The blade of the petal (below the sepals) measures approximately 2-5 mm long. The petals also consist of a long red, conical, nectar-producing spur which extends straight above the sepals. The stamens typically dangle below the petals. The whole flower tends to nod downward, with the spurs pointing upwards.

In the garden, red columbine is a long-lived perennial wildflower which reseeds fairly easily. It is an early spring bloomer, and may attract hummingbirds during their northerly spring migration.


Habitat:

Red columbine is found from moist, open forests of the lowlands, to subalpine meadows.


Range

The red columbine is widely distributed throughout the Pacific Northwest, but in the arid regions, tends to be limited to near streams or mid to upper elevation meadows.


Maturing fruit of Red Columbine, Sitka Columbine, Western Columbine Aquilegia formosa   Synonyms: Aquilegia formosa var. communis, Aquilegia formosa var. formosa, Aquilegia formosa var. fosteri, Aquilegia formosa var. hypolasia, Aquilegia formosa var. megalantha, Aquilegia formosa var. pauciflora, Aquilegia formosa var. truncata, Aquilegia formosa var. wawawensis

The photo above shows the follicle of red columbine as seen along Hat Pt. Road below Horse Creek Viewpoint in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.........July 11, 2007. Note the numerous short gland-tipped hairs covering the follicle.

Red Columbine, Sitka Columbine, Western Columbine Aquilegia formosa   Synonyms: Aquilegia formosa var. communis, Aquilegia formosa var. formosa, Aquilegia formosa var. fosteri, Aquilegia formosa var. hypolasia, Aquilegia formosa var. megalantha, Aquilegia formosa var. pauciflora, Aquilegia formosa var. truncata, Aquilegia formosa var. wawawensis - Red Columbine, Sitka Columbine, Western Columbine Aquilegia formosa   Synonyms: Aquilegia formosa var. communis, Aquilegia formosa var. formosa, Aquilegia formosa var. fosteri, Aquilegia formosa var. hypolasia, Aquilegia formosa var. megalantha, Aquilegia formosa var. pauciflora, Aquilegia formosa var. truncata, Aquilegia formosa var. wawawensis

Close-up of the flower (left) of red columbine as seen near Little Pine Creek along the Canyon Mountain Trail #218, Strawberry Mountain Wilderness...........August 19, 2011. The photo at right shows the flower of red columbine as seen next to Bond Creek several hundred meters upstream along Bond Creek from Hot Springs Campground, Hart Mt. National Antelope Refuge........June 11, 2016

Flower of Red Columbine, Sitka Columbine, Western Columbine Aquilegia formosa   Synonyms: Aquilegia formosa var. communis, Aquilegia formosa var. formosa, Aquilegia formosa var. fosteri, Aquilegia formosa var. hypolasia, Aquilegia formosa var. megalantha, Aquilegia formosa var. pauciflora, Aquilegia formosa var. truncata, Aquilegia formosa var. wawawensis - Flower of Red Columbine, Sitka Columbine, Western Columbine Aquilegia formosa   Synonyms: Aquilegia formosa var. communis, Aquilegia formosa var. formosa, Aquilegia formosa var. fosteri, Aquilegia formosa var. hypolasia, Aquilegia formosa var. megalantha, Aquilegia formosa var. pauciflora, Aquilegia formosa var. truncata, Aquilegia formosa var. wawawensis)

Flower of red columbine as seen (left) along FS Road #38-200 about 2 miles southeast of Spanish Peak, Ochoco National Forest..........June 14, 2015. The photo at right shows red columbine blooming along the Ochoco Mountain Trail #823 along upper Rock Creek, Ochoco National Forest.........July 12, 2017.

Red Columbine, Sitka Columbine, Western Columbine Aquilegia formosa   Synonyms: Aquilegia formosa var. communis, Aquilegia formosa var. formosa, Aquilegia formosa var. fosteri, Aquilegia formosa var. hypolasia, Aquilegia formosa var. megalantha, Aquilegia formosa var. pauciflora, Aquilegia formosa var. truncata, Aquilegia formosa var. wawawensis

The photo above shows a close-up of the flower of red columbine as seen at Blue Sky, Hart Mt. National Antelope Refuge........June 25, 2003.

Paul Slichter