Aquilegia canadensis - Wild columbine
Aquilegia canadensis - Wild columbine

Aquilegia canadensis - Wild columbine

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Butterfly FriendlyDeer ResistantPart ShadeBird Friendly
Wild columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Red flowers with yellow centers hang like drifts of softly illuminated lanterns in April and May. Excellent as a shady rock garden naturalizer, it also is quite content in average garden conditions. Occurs naturally in rich rocky woods, north-facing slopes, cliffs, ledges, pastures, and roadside banks. Native to all states east of the Rockies, except Louisiana.

  • Attracts butterflies, bumblebees and hummingbirds
  • Flowers for an extended period of time in spring
  • Thrives in sun or shade; will self sow and naturalize
  • Finches and buntings eat the seed
  • Deer and rabbit resistant

Native Range

Ledges, woods, and cliffs; Quebec to Manitoba south to Texas and Florida

 Map Credit: The Biota of North America 
Map Key: Green (native), Teal (native, adventive), Blue (present), Yellow (present & rare), Red (extinct)


Aquilegia canadensis is the larval host for the Columbine Duskywing butterfly (Erynnis lucilius). Pollinated by hummingbirds, which depend on Wild Columbine as an important source of early-season nectar. An old-fashioned garden plant, wild columbine has been cultivated in Europe and America since the mid-1600s.




Thrives in part to full shade in any well-drained soil. Plants tolerate full sun if temperatures are cool, but they prefer partial shade. They may go dormant in mid-summer if stressed by heat or drought but will emerge again in late winter.


Mature Size: 2-3 ft. Tall x 1-1.5 ft. Wide

Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Sun Exposure: Part Shade

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