Growing up in the Adirondack mountains introduces you to many different kinds of wild flowering plants. One very interesting plant is the wild columbine. The plant produces hundreds of tiny black shiny seeds at the end of June into July . These seeds seem to germinate where ever they land. Plants spring up where ever there is enough soil. In between rocks or on the side of a ledge are places where you may spot wild columbine. This makes it an excellent choice for rock gardens.
Wild Columbine has beautiful unusual flowers. They are shaped like four spured tubes with flared ends fused together. Wild Columbine or Canadian Columbine is red and yellow. Being red above and yellow beneath the flower. The color can vary and I have seen pale yellow flowers come from seed. Humming birds love the red color and use Wild Columbine as an early spring food. The Columbine is also larval food for the Columbine Duskywing butterfly. These pale green caterpillars sometimes defoliate the plant. You go out one day and wonder where your leaves went. If you look closely on the edges of the eaten leaves you will see the caterpillar. Isn't that why we plant natives to encourage the insects and butterflies. The caterpillar do not touch the flowers.
The plant grows about 12 to 24 inches depending on where it is located. The leaves are a bluish green and are on long stems in 3 sections that are lobed. I would say columbine like but they are columbines.
Columbines are relatively short lived as perennials go, usually two to three years but do self seed and are a tremendous asset to the wildflower garden.
Aquilegia canadensis - Wild columbine
Wild Columbine Provides early spring food for humming birds
-Flowers are unusual in shape
-Excellent rock garden plant
-Height: 1 to 2.5 feet
-Zone: 3 to 9