Plant Common Name
Columbine, Dark Columbine
An alpine columbine from Central Europe and the Alps, dark columbine offers loads of delicate plum-purple flowers in spring. Native populations inhabit rocky outcrops at high to medium altitudes, so this is an ideal species for rock gardens. Like most Aquilegia, this is a spring bloomer that offers little to no ornamental interest when not in bloom.
Columbines are hardy, clump-forming perennials that often grow from small slender woody rhizomes (underground lateral stems). The small delicate, thin leaves appear in branches of three and have three scalloped lobes. They appear the spring and form mounded clumps. The foliage of this species is pale green to gray green.
The intricate, nodding blooms of dark columbine are held on slender stems of moderate length. Each dark purple flower has prominent, hollow, nectar-holding spurs that extend backwards. These are flanked by five petal-like sepals called tepals. A flush of showy yellow stamens protrudes from the center of each insect-pollinated bloom. Dry, five-parted capsule fruits called follicles follow. Small black seeds shake down from mature follicles like rain.
Dark columbine is generally easy to grow and thrives in full to partial sun and porous, rocky soil with good drainage. As with most alpine species, avoid planting in areas where high heat and drought are prevalent. Columbines readily self-sow, so deadhead quickly if you don’t want seedlings appearing here and there. Enjoy this beauty in a rock garden or sunny border with good drainage.
AHS Heat Zone
8 - 1
USDA Hardiness Zone
5 - 8
Full Sun, Partial Sun
12"-18" / 30.5cm - 45.7cm
8"-12" / 20.3cm - 30.5cm
Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer