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Crimson Columbine flower

Crimson Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

Aliases:  Western Columbine, Red Columbine, Sitka Columbine

Family:  Buttercup (Ranunculaceae)

Habitat:  Wet and shady areas, especially streambanks and meadow peripheries, above 3,000 feet (900 meters). I've seen it in several meadows in the Glacier Point Road area, which are mostly at elevations in the 6,000-7,000 foot (1,800 - 2,100 meters) range, and I've seen it above 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) in the Gaylor Lakes basin. It's also common along the Wawona Meadow loop trail, which is at 4,000 feet (1,200 meters). If you want to see Crimson Columbine without having to get out of your car, Summit Meadow, the meadow about seven miles (11 km) down Glacier Point Road (watch for the parking strip and outhouse), is a likely spot.

Size: Flowers a couple inches long, nodding over slender stems up to four feet tall.

Flowering Season:  June - August

Lifespan:  Perennial

Origins:  Native  (see distribution maps for California and US/Canada)

Aquilegia formosa etymology:  Aquilegia probably derives from the Latin words for either eagle (aquila, a reference to petal shape) or water-drawer (aquatio or aquator, referring to habitat). Formosa derives from the Latin term formosus, meaning shapely or beautiful. Columbine itself derives from the Latin term for "dovelike". 1 2 3

This Photo:  Along Glacier Point Road near the Badger Pass turnoff, early June

Other Resources:   CalFlora  ·  CalPhotos  ·  USDA  ·  eFloras.org  ·  Plants for a Future  ·  Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

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