American Columbine – Aquilegia canadensis

See also: Native Plants
One of the all time greats for the shade garden (can tolerate sun with good moisture), Aquilegia canadensis (American columbine, a.k.a. wild columbine, Canadian columbine, Eastern red columbine) appears in spring, hangs around gracefully for a month or two, and then fades into the garden background.

In my years of thinking about such things, I have never seen a hybrid columbine I would value more highly than our native species.

The American columbine gives the illusion of being long-lived, but individual plants rarely last more than a season or two in the garden; the trick is that columbine reseeds readily, ensuring a steady supply of plants from season to season.  Never fear…if one leaves the soil more or less undisturbed, new plants will arise the following spring.

Individual plants grow 6-30" or so, and leaves are tri-lobed. Both hummingbirds and butterflies enjoy the nectar, a bonus in the early season.

If you like a garden that is a bit untended, a bit left to chance, then American columbine is a must.


About Barrie

Barrie earned both his Bachelor's (1990) and Master's (2006) degrees in landscape architecture from the University of Georgia. His favorite plant is the oakleaf hydrangea.