Crimson Columbine

Aquilegia formosa

Crimson Columbine

Color: Red and yellow

Common name: Crimson Columbine

Latin name: Aquilegia formosa


Height: 8-31 inches

Description: The red or orange spreading outer parts of the 2-inch flower are sepals, and the yellow inner parts are the true petals.

Leaf: Generally undivided or unbranched to deeply 3-lobed

Crimson Columbine with stalk

Range: California Floristic Province (except Great Central Valley, South Coast, Channel Islands), Great Basin Floristic Province, Desert Mountains
Habitat: Streambanks, seeps, moist places, chaparral, oak woodland, mixed-evergreen or coniferous forest.
Elevation: < 3300 m.
Flowering time: Jul

Notes: The petals bear spurs that attract the plant's pollinators, the Sphinx moths. Hummingbirds are also attracted to it in gardens. The flowers are edible, with a sweet taste — though the seeds can be fatal if eaten. Aquilegia formosa, a dicot, is a perennial herb that is native to California and is also found elsewhere in North America and beyond. Distribution outside California: to Alaska, Montana, Baja California. Photographed using a Canon EOS 10D in June 2004.

We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.

Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

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