Golden Columbine

Golden Columbines (Aquilegia chrysantha) are fairly common in moist, shady canyon areas in the mountains around Tucson. They bloom during the spring and summer.

Golden Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha) flower

Their bright yellow flowers are about 3 inches (7.6 cm) wide and have 5 petals with 2 inch (5 cm) long spurs projecting behind them.

Side-view of a Golden Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha) flower

The long flower spurs contain the nectar, and because the spurs are so long in this species, the flowers are not pollinated by hummingbirds, but by moths in the Hawkmoth Family (Sphingidae) instead. These moths, such as the White-lined Sphinx Moth (Hyles lineata or Celerio lineata), have long proboscises (or proboscides) capable of reaching the flower nectar.

Golden Columbines have attractive, delicate leaves divided into three, round-toothed leaflets. With their tall, slender flower stalks, these native perennials can grow to about 4 feet (1.2 m) tall, but the leaves are mostly basal.

I have seen Golden Columbines planted in Tucson gardens, and they do quite well if given regular water and at least afternoon shade.

Category:  Arizona Wild Plants