Aquilega candensis, also called Columbine, is a striking native plants with bright intricate red and yellow flowers.  The genus name “Aquilegia” comes from the Latin “aquila” which means “eagle” and refers to the spurred petals that many believe resemble an eagle’s talons.  These spurs also hold nectar which provides amino acids needed by hummingbirds, hawkmoths, and bumble bees.

As children, my siblings and I would pick the flowers and pull the tip off these spurs so we could drink the sugary nectar. The sugar content of the native columbine (Aquilegia candensis) is twice that of other North American columbines.

Columbine is a very versatile plant.  It can grow in variety of soils.  It thrives in full sun or shade and is deer resistant. Columbine blooms from April through June, making it a very important species for early season pollinators.  At two feet tall, it also fits into a variety of urban and rural landscape situations.

You can find many different colors of Columbine in the nursery trade.  Only the red columbine is native here in Eastern Nebraska.  The US Forest Service has an excellent description of this and many other columbines and where they thrive.

Aquilegia canadensis, spurs

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