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Close-up of Red Columbine flowers (Aquilegia formosa). One of 100+ species of Pacific Northwest native plants available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants, Native Plant Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Hummingbird drinks from Red Columbine flower (Aquilegia formosa). One of 100+ species of Pacific Northwest native plants available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants, Native Plant Nursery in Portland, Oregon.

Red Columbine

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Aquilegia formosa

Red columbine (or Western columbine) is an absolutely stunning wildflower and a hummingbird magnet. The nodding blossoms consist of dramatically-spurred red to orange sepals surrounding yellow petals blooming late spring to late summer. It also attracts butterflies, beneficial pest-eating insects and the seeds are favored by songbirds, making native columbine the perfect addition to a wildlife garden. 

  • Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous perennial herbaceous plant
  • Size at maturity: 3' tall, 1-2' wide
  • Light requirements: full sun, part-sun/part-shade
  • Moisture requirements: moist soil
  • Bloom time: April - August
  • Growth rate/ease: moderate growth rate, easy to grow.
  • Wildlife support: 7 species of local birds, 1 mammal utilize this plant, adult butterflies/nectar source, bees and other insect pollinators, beneficial insects/pest eating insects, caterpillar host plant/larval food source, hummingbirds
  • Native habitat/range: Native to and common in many habitats, including chaparral, oak woodland, and mixed-evergreen or coniferous forest of the western North America, from Alaska to Baja California and eastward to Montana and Wyoming. Portland Plant List - yes. 
  • Special features: from pollinators and other insects to birds, it's a wildlife magnet! 

Gardening with Red Columbine: It prefers partial shade and well-drained soils but can tolerate full sun with supplemental moisture. It is excellent in sunny to partially sunny raingardens and near vegetable beds where supplemental moisture can be easily provided. When overly stressed by drought and where there is not good airflow, it can develop powdery mildew on its leaves, late in the season. If this occurs, relocate to an area with more moisture and better circulation or simply pinch off and dispose of affected leaves.   

Photo Credits: Tara Lemezis