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Columbine growing along the trail in the woods behind
my home in northeast Iowa.

Wild Columbine
Aquilegia canadensis
Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae)

Description: This native perennial plant is 1-3’ tall and sparingly branched. The round stems are green to reddish green and glabrous or pubescent. At first, only basal leaves are produced, but later there are alternate leaves along the stems. These leaves are ternately compound (divided into groups of 3 leaflets) and they have long petioles that are glabrous or pubescent. Each leaflet is up to 3" long and 2" across; it is usually obovate in shape with a wedge-shaped bottom, but it divides into 3 rounded lobes. Each of these lobes is often subdivided into several secondary lobes, resembling large rounded teeth. The upper surface of each leaflet is glabrous and there may be areas with a whitish bloom. The leaflets can be sessile or stalked. The upper stems produce flowers individually or in groups of 2-3. Each flower is about 1½" long and it hangs downward from a long stalk. This flower has 5 petals, 5 petal-like sepals, and strongly exerted stamens and styles. Each petal is yellow and rounded toward the tip, but its base consists of a long nectar spur that is pale red to purplish red. The sepals are ovate in shape and they are the same color as the nectar spurs. The nectar spurs of mature flowers are erect (parallel to each other) or slightly spreading. The anthers of the stamens are bright yellow. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer and lasts about a month. There is no floral scent. Each flower is replaced by 5 pod-shaped follicles that have long beaks. Each follicle splits open along one side to release the shiny black seeds. The root system is fibrous and rhizomes are occasionally produced.

Cultivation: The preference is light shade to partial sun, moist to dry conditions, and soil that is loamy, rocky, or slightly sandy. Mature plants can also tolerate full sun, although young plants require some shade from neighboring vegetation. Once it becomes established, this plant is easy to maintain.

Range & Habitat: Habitats include rocky open woodlands, wooded slopes, sandy savannas, thinly wooded bluffs, shaded areas of limestone cliffs, limestone glades, fens and bogs, openings in logged woodlands, and areas along railroad tracks. Occasional wildfires and other kinds of disturbance in wooded areas are probably beneficial in maintaining populations of this plant.

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wildflowers, columbine

Hello! I am a wife, mother, worship leader and piano teacher. Photography is a new passion of mine. I also enjoy singing, playing the piano & flute, bicycling and the theatre! Thank you for all your kindness and support here. God bless you!

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  • AuntDot
    AuntDotover 2 years ago

    How very beautiful, Lori!

  • Hi, Dot!! Thank you so much!! :-)

    – lorilee

  • Digitalbcon
    Digitalbconover 2 years ago

    How gorgeous!! Are they blooming already? Great capture Lori!!

  • Thanks, Blair!!! There were a few blooming in the woods today with more to come soon!! :-)

    – lorilee

  • Fara
    Faraover 2 years ago

    What a beautiful colour and capture Lori……………………………x

  • Thank you very much!!! :-)

    – lorilee

  • May Lattanzio
    May Lattanzioover 2 years ago

    Perfect. Haven’t seen one since I left Oregon in the 80s.

  • Thank you, May!!! :-)

    – lorilee

  • labaker
    labakerover 2 years ago

    beautifully done…….

  • Thanks, Larry!! :-)

    – lorilee

  • Fred Mitchell
    Fred Mitchellover 2 years ago

    We have to cultivate these for the pleasure of looking.

  • Thank you so much, Fred!!

    – lorilee

  • EbyArts
    EbyArtsover 2 years ago

    So bright and lovely!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Thank you!!!! :-)

    – lorilee

  • SharonD
    SharonDover 2 years ago

    Beautiful pic Lori.

  • Thanks, Sharon!!! :-)

    – lorilee

  • barnsis
    barnsisover 2 years ago

    Beautiful macro

  • Thank you so much, Byron & Julie!!

    – lorilee

  • Rick  Friedle
    Rick Friedleover 2 years ago


  • Thank you, Rick!!! :-)

    – lorilee

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