Species of Aquilegia are polymorphic and difficult to define adequately. Some of the variability is because of introgressive hybridization. Even distantly related species of columbine are often freely interfertile, and many cases of natural hybridization and introgression are known from North America. In arid areas Aquilegia species tend to form small populations often completely isolated from one another - this leads to local fixation of genes and therefore increased variability in species such as Aquilegia. micrantha and Aquilegia. desertorum . In addition, populations with spurless petals are occasionally found in many species[
Aquilegia caerulea pubescens (Coville) Rapaics
Common Name: Columbine
Flowering plant growing at 3,300 metres at Morgan Pass, John Muir Wilderness, Sierra Nevada mountains, California.
Photograph by: Dcrjsr
Aquilegia pubescens is a herbaceous, perennial plant producing a cluster of basal leaves with one or more flowering stems that can grow 20 - 50cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and food. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental.
Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, it belongs to a family that contains a number of mildly toxic species. It is therefore wise to exercise some caution. The flowers are probably perfectly safe to eat.
South-western N. America - the southern Sierra Nevada of California
Open rocky places and talus in the alpine and sub-alpine zones; at elevations from 2,700 - 4,000 metres[
|Other Uses Rating
Prefers a well-drained friable sandy loam with leaf mold[
]. Intolerant of heavy clay[
Most species of Aquilegia are short-lived, dying out after 2 - 3 years, though they usually produce seed prolifically[
]. However, they are very apt to hybridize with other members of the genus and so it becomes difficult to keep a species true to type if more than one is grown in the garden[
This species is endemic to the southern Sierra Nevada., it sometimes forms extensive hybrid swarms with Aquilegia formosa pauciflora in the wild[
Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[
A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[
Flowers - raw. Rich in nectar, they are sweet and delightful[
], they make a very attractive addition to mixed salads and can also be used as a thirst-quenching munch in the garden[
The plant is antispasmodic, diaphoretic, parasiticide, resolvent, salve[
The seed is used as a parasiticide to rid the hair of lice[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be slow to germinate[
]. Stored seed can be sown in late winter in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer.
Division in spring[