Our beautiful blue and white Rocky Mountain Columbines, Aquilegia coerulea, bloom from May to July, attracting pollinators with cup shaped centers and their sweet nectar. Many of us recognize the flower from its distinctive blue spurs that seem to anchor the flower upright, although Colorado is also home to a spurless blue columbine.

The Columbine was adopted as the official state flower in April 1899 by elementary school children with a statewide contest.

A 1925 state law makes it a duty of Colorado citizens to protect the state flower and prohibits uprooting the flower on public lands. The law limits the gathering or picking of the flower to 25 stems, buds, or blossoms per day. 

The lavender blue petals represent our clear blue skies, the center white cup symbolizes the snow-capped mountains, and the yellow stamen embodies our gold mining history. Colorado is home to nearly 70 species of columbines.

The Columbine is a short-lived perennial of about 4-5 years, but self-seeds for continued enjoyment. Seedlings often present in a different color than the mother plant. 

Most columbines don’t like extreme heat and the blooms will fade during the hot days of summer, but can reappear after the weather cools if the plant is deadheaded.

Native Americans used the columbine as an herbal remedy for fever and heart tension.

Many garden centers and nurseries have varieties of columbines for your garden, including the Rocky Mountain Columbine.