Aquilegia formosa

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Aquilegia formosa

Aquilegia formosa', also known as the red columbine, western columbine, Sitka columbine, is a flowering plant in the Ranunculaceae family.


  • Kingdom Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  • Subclass Magnoliidae
  • Order Ranunculales
  • Family Ranunculaceae – Buttercup family
  • Genus Aquilegia L. – columbine
  • Species Aquilegia formosa Fisch. ex DC. – western columbine


Glandular, glabrous to densely pubescent perennial from a branched to simple woody base, the several stems 1.5-10 dm. tall. Leaves mostly basal, long-petiolate, the blades triternate; leaflets thin, obovate with a wedge-shaped base, 2-3 times lobed, glaucous and pubescent beneath, 1.5-5.5 cm. long. Flowers usually several, nodding; sepals 5, petal-like, pale to deep red, oblong-lanceolate, 1.5-2.5 cm. long; petals 5, yellow, with straight spurs 10-15 mm. long, the blades 2-5 mm. long; stamens numerous, the inner ones sterile and scale-like. Follicles 5, 2 cm. long, copiously glandular-puberulent.

Bloom Period



Widely distributed throughout Washington; Alaska south to California, coastal and inland to Alberta and Wyoming.


Open woods, lowlands to mid-elevations in the mountains.



Photo Gallery



Abbreviation: AQFO

Seed sample from: 2011

Average Measurement: 2.5 x 1.4 x 1.2

Measurement Range: L: 2.5 - 2.75, W: 1.2 - 1.5, D: 1 - 1.5


Shape: Seeds tapering at hilum end, broadening at opposite side.

Color: Hilum is white, seed is black.

Surface: At least one distinct ridge runs from the hilum to the opposite side. End opposite hilum is sometimes puckered or having concave pits. Seed is glossy and lightly textured with very small bumps.

Latitudinal Cross Section: elliptical AQFO lat.png

Longitudinal Cross Section: obovate AQFO long.png

Aquilegia formosa
Aquilegia formosa

Basic Explanations and Assumptions:

The dimensions for the seeds are length x width x depth. The location of the hilum is used as the base of the seed, and the length is measured from hilum to the opposite apex. Where a style is present, the length is measured from the hilum to the bottom of the style. Width is measured at a right angle to the length at the widest part. Depth is measured at a right angle to the intersection of height and width lines.

Measurements included are the mean average for each measurement of ten separate seeds.

All measurements in millimeters unless otherwise noted.