Columbine – 6 Facts About This Exquisite Wildflower

columbine

Colorado Blue Columbine.

Columbine is one of my favorite wildflowers of the Rocky Mountains.  Here are 6 facts about this exquisite flower.

Hiking in the Rocky Mountains can be such a joy when the wildflowers are blooming.  Coming around a corner into a meadow of wildflowers with a background of the peaks of the Rockies is truly breathtaking.  Those are the moments that I remember later when I am sitting inside my house working on the computer.  Well, here are some fun facts about this wildflower that I hope will show you why it is so special.

columbine

Red and yellow columbine with the spurs pointing up and to the left.

6 Facts About Columbine

Columbine is the general name for an entire genus of flowers.  There are in fact more than 60 species of columbine that range in color from blue to red or yellow.  All of these species of Columbines evolved over time to develop differently in order to give them the best chance of being pollinated.  They had different pollinators and thus they slowly changed.  For example, some of the flowers point down and others point upwards.  The Forest Service website has a nice explanation of the differences here.

It can be found throughout the Rockies – from the Canadian Rockies down into the Southern and Central Rockies of Utah and Colorado.

columbineColorado Blue Columbine is the state flower of Colorado and is also one of the common wildflowers of the Rocky Mountains.

The different species are pollinated by many different animals.  Bumblebees pollinate many different colors.  Hummingbirds pollinate the red flowers, and the yellow and white flowers are generally pollinated by hawk moths.

columbine

A beautiful red columbine.  The spurs are the five red projections that stick straight up.

This flower is named after both eagles and doves.  The latin name of the genus is Aquilegia.  In latin this means eagle.  Apparently, the spurs on the underside of the flower (the thin projections of the flower that stick out) look like eagles talons to some people.  Then again, the common name of columbine in latin means dove or dove like.  Some people thought that the upside down flower looked like five doves nestled together.

While Columbine grows throughout the Rockies of North America it is not exclusive there.  It also grows in Europe.

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