Native Plant Trust

Aquilegia canadensis

red columbine, Canada columbine


One of our favorite native spring bloomers, columbines serve as a valuable nectar source to spring insects and hummingbirds. This species pairs well with other sun and dry-loving plants, but is adaptable to open woodlands and craggy outcrops so long as drainage is good.

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General Description | Benefits | Ecology | References


Height: 8-24 in
Spread: 8-12 in
Hardiness Zone: 3-9


Characteristics & Attributes

Cultivation Status
Species
Exposure
Sun
Part Shade
Soil Moisture
Average
Dry
Ecoregion
(83) Eastern Great Lakes Lowlands
(59) Northeastern Coastal Zone
(84) Atlantic Coastal Pine Barrens
(82) Acadian Plains and Hills
(58) Northeastern Highlands
Ornamental Interest
Spring Bloom
Attracts Wildlife
Attracts Butterflies
Host Plant
Attracts Hummingbirds
Attracts Bees
Tolerance
Deer/Rabbit Resistant
Salt Tolerant
Drought Tolerant
Urban Environment
Additional Attributes
Low Maintenance


North American Distribution


General Description

Bloom Description
-Blooms from May to June, well into summer if temperatures remain moderate;
-Drooping, bell-shaped flowers with a red exterior sepals and yellow petals on the interior, with 5 distinctive red spurs projecting from the rear and a clump of striking yellow stamens at the center.


Growth Habit & Shape: Individuals will grow singly in part-shade, but in ideal soil conditions will naturalize to form large colonies by self-seeding. New individuals produce flowers in their second year.

Soil Preferences: Grows well in sandy, well-drained soils, as well as Medium Loam, Sandy Loam, and limestone-based soils. Tolerates pH circumneutral to acidic.

Root Description: Short-lived fibrous roots and a vertical underground stem (caudex).

Garden Uses: Borders, cottage gardens, open shade gardens, woodland gardens or naturalized areas, and hummingbird/pollinator gardens. The foliage can have a groundcover effect when planted in adequately moist soils.

Best Management & Maintenance: Cut back flowering stems after blooming to promote regrowth.

Common Problems: Sometimes susceptible to leaf miner, which can decimate leaves of young plants.

Benefits

Ornamental Value: Valued in shade gardens as a hardy, long-lasting early-season bloom; attractive, low blue-green foliage will persist all season long given adequate soil moisture, and can be used for contrast with plants of more linear structure.

Wildlife Benefits: Important nectar source for hummingbirds; host to the Columbine Duskywing butterfly.

Other Practical/Environmental Benefits:

Use in place of: Western columbine species, hybrid or cultivar columbines.

Ecology

Habitat & Ecosystem: Per USDA plants, this plant is found in dry to mesic woodlands, particularly in clearings or along borders of oak-hickory, oak-maple and maple-basswood forests, black-oak savannas, cedar glades, pine woods, and mixed conifer hardwood forests. It can also be found on wooded to open rocky hillsides, bluffs, calcareous cliffs, outcrops, ledges, banks, beach ridges, gravelly shorelines, roadsides, quarries, and peat bogs.

Response to Disturbance: Grows readily in disturbed soils, on roadsides and on woodland edges; needs at least one full year undisturbed before it can flower and set seed. Somewhat shade-tolerant but can be shaded out by taller perennials and under canopy.

Native Distribution (states):
Canada: MB, NB, ON, QC, SKU
USA: AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV


Wetland indicator status: FACU

References

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Photo by Dan Jaffe (c) Native Plant Trust
Photo by Dan Jaffe (c) Native Plant Trust
Photo by Dan Jaffe (c) Native Plant Trust
Photo by Dan Jaffe (c) Native Plant Trust
Photo by Dan Jaffe (c) Native Plant Trust
Photo by Dan Jaffe (c) Native Plant Trust
Photo by Dan Jaffe (c) Native Plant Trust
Photo by Dan Jaffe (c) Native Plant Trust