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Wasowski, Sally and Andy
Aquilegia chrysantha Gray
Golden columbine, Yellow columbine
USDA Symbol: AQCH
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
Several stems and basal leaves form a bushy perennial columbine one to three feet tall with handsome, clear yellow flowers that are held relatively erect on long stalks rather than nodding. Leaves are usually divided into three, occasionally into two parts (variety hinckleyana), with leaflets up to four centimeters long, all carried on petioles up to 20 centimeters in length. Petal blades normally range from eight to sixteen centimeters long, but those of variety hinckleyana are only two centimeters long and sixteen millimeters wide. Spurs range from less than four to more than ten centimeters in length, with four to nine centimeters most common.
Native to moist canyon seeps in the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts of southwestern North America, this popular garden columbine is perfect for brightening dark corners of Southwestern shade gardens. It requires good drainage and cant take excessive sun, but is relatively adaptable to any standard garden soil. It is pollinated by moths, butterflies, and bees.
There are several yellow-flowered columbines in western North America, including Longspur Columbine (A. longissima), the rare Hinckley Columbine (A. chrysantha var. hinckleyana), and the rare Chaplins Columbine (A. chrysantha var. chaplinei), the latter two currently considered varieties of A. chrysantha. Aquilegia flavescens, a mountain species growing from southern British Columbia to northern Oregon, east to Colorado, western Wyoming, and Alberta, has bent tips on the spurs, forming hooks.
The word columbine comes from columbinus, in Latin dove, referring to the flowers resemblance to a cluster of 5 doves. The spurs represent the birds heads and shoulders; the spreading sepals, the wings; the blade of the petal, each birds body. The genus name, from the Latin aquila (eagle), alludes to the petals, which resemble eagle talons.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen Leaf Shape: Obovate Leaf Venation: Palmate Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous Leaf Margin:
Lobed Leaf Texture:
Smooth Breeding System:
, Monoecious Leaf:
Glaucous green Flower:
Flowers 3-5 inches long. Sepals
5-17 mm wide Fruit:
Green to dark grey 13-18 mm follicles, 2 mm seeds Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: Peak bloom time varies from late spring to late summer
AZ , CO , NM , TX , UT Native Distribution:
Chihuahuan and Sonoran Desert canyon seeps from west Texas, southern New Mexico, southern Utah, and Arizona south into adjacent Mexico. Disjunct population in southern Colorado. Native Habitat:
Moist places in sheltered canyons in the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained sandy, rocky, loamy, limestone or igneous soils
Conditions Comments: Needs good drainage but will adapt to clays if enough sand and/or organic matter is worked in to prevent waterlogging. Poor drainage causes crown rot. May go dormant during drought, but minimal moisture and adequate shade can prevent this. Though they tolerate some heat, Southwestern yellow columbines become susceptible to spider mites and aphids in very hot, arid conditions. In continuous full sun, can become stressed, with faded leaves, so plant in shade.
A shade-loving perennial
with brilliant flowers and handsome, nearly evergreen
foliage Use Wildlife:
Attracts butterflies and bumblebees Conspicuous Flowers:
Butterflies Nectar Source:
PropagationPropagation Material: Clump Division , Seeds
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Water during drought to prevent dormancy. Cut spent seedheads if desired. To prevent hybridization with other species of columbine, keep different species widely separated.
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Mr. Smarty Plants says
Planting shade plants in 100+ weather
June 25, 2009
I was planning on planting some columbines in a barrel and Turk's Cap and Coralberry in my yard, but hadn't counted on the extreme heat this early in the summer. Is it okay to plant these things as...
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From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Tohono Chul Park, Inc.
- Tucson, AZNPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter
- Fredericksburg, TX
Recommended Species Lists
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Record Modified: 2012-04-19
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG