Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Flowers: Eastern Red Columbine

There is only one species of Columbine native to the eastern United States:  Aquilegia candensis (Eastern Red Columbine).  It is a fascinating flower and no other flower, except other Columbine species, looks like it.  The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's page on it has a great description of the flower itself, "A nodding, red and yellow flower with upward spurred petals alternating with spreading, colored speals and numerous yellow stamens hanging below the petals."  A. canadensis is a perennial, but will also spread through self-seeding.  It is a member of the Buttercup family.  It is found in rich, rocky woods.  According to Wildflowers and Plant Communities (Spira 2011), A. canadensis prefers soils that are high in calcium.

A. canadensis is a favorite of hummingbirds and bumblebees, both of which have tongues long enough to reach the nectar within the red spurs, which makes it a great addition to gardens.  It is easy to grow from seed and will flower its second year.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
 A. canadensis on the Weakley Hollow Fire Road on Old Rag.  This shows the three-lobed leaves of the plant (2011).
 Another example from Little Devil's Staircase in the North District of Shenandoah National Park in 2007.
 Old Rag Ridge Trail in 2010.
An odd picture that was the result of me playing with the camera.  This does show the inner structure of the flower, though.  This one was taken in June 2007 on Little Devil's Staircase in Shenandoah.

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