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Rocky Mountain Columbine

The Rocky Mountain Columbine (Aquilegia saximontana) belongs to the buttercup flower family, the Ranunculaceae.

This columbine flower is also commonly known as Rocky Mountain Blue Columbine, Dwarf Blue Columbine, Alpine Dwarf Columbine and Alpine Columbine. Yet, the name Alpine Columbine also refers to another alpine columbine flower that is native to the French, Italian, Swiss and Austrian Alps: Aquilegia alpina.

The Rocky Mountain Blue Columbine, however, is native to the rocky slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado (USA). It grows in an altitude range of about 3000 to 4000 metres (10000 to 13000 feet) along the tree line. The wild flowers are classified as vulnerable because the native, suitable habitat covers only a very small area.

The Rocky Mountain Blue Columbine flowers look a lot like the Blue Columbine Flowers (Aquilegia caerulea) and the two flowers are often mistaken. Aquilegia saximontana, however, has hooked spurs and Aquilegia caerulea has straight spurs. I have read somewhere that both columbine flowers have the state flower status (Colorado State Flower). Yet, unfortunately, I was not able to find out if this is true. All I found out was that Aquilegia caerulea is for sure the official State Flower.

The natural habitat reveals that this is a first rate flower for rock and alpine gardens.

This is a low growing herbaceous perennial plant. They plants only grow as tall as 25 cm (10 inches).

The nodding flowers a quite small, they measure only about 2,5 centimetres (1 inch) across. The delicate flowers have five petals with white blades and long, showy, hooked spurs. The sepals and the spurs have a light blue to lavender blue colour. The blooming period generally lasts from June/July to August.

Is this your next garden flower? This columbine flower is easy to grow (as are all other columbine species as well). Plant the plants in places with full sun to part shade and keep the soil well drained because they prefer to grow in moist soil.

These columbines are robust and cold tolerant to about –35 Degrees Celsius (– 30 Fahrenheit).


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