Aquilegia formosa - Fisch.
Common Name Western Columbine
Family Ranunculaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards 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.
Habitats Widely distributed in many habitats from the coast to the coastal mountains[60]. Moist woods and damp places in scrub and on banks from sea-level to 3000 metres[187].
Range Western N. America - Alaska to California, east to W. Montana and Utah.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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Aquilegia formosa Western Columbine
Aquilegia formosa Western Columbine
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Aquilegia formosa is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower from May to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.


Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Flowers - raw. Rich in nectar, they are sweet and delightful[172, 213], they make a very attractive addition to mixed salads and can also be used as a thirst-quenching munch in the garden[K]. Children enjoy sucking out the sweet nectar from the base of the flowers[257]. Early spring greens cooked and eaten as a vegetable[257]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Root - cooked. Used by the N. American Indians as a famine food[213]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antispasmodic;  Diaphoretic;  Parasiticide;  Parasiticide;  Resolvent;  Salve.

Western columbine was quite frequently employed by a number of native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints[257]. It is little used in modern herbalism. Antispasmodic, diaphoretic, parasiticide, resolvent, salve[172]. A decoction of the root is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and stomach aches[257]. A decoction of the roots and leaves is used in the treatment of VD, dizziness and biliousness[257]. The mashed fresh roots can be rubbed briskly on aching rheumatic joints[257]. A poultice of chewed roots or leaves is applied to bee stings, sores etc[257]. A decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of sore throats, coughs and colds[257]. The seeds can be chewed as a remedy for stomach aches[257].


Other Uses
Hair;  Parasiticide;  Parasiticide.

The seed is used to rid the hair of lice[172, 257]. The whole plant is boiled up and used as a hair wash[213, 257]. The seeds are aromatic. They can be crushed and rubbed on the body as a perfume or placed in a sachet and stored with clothes to impart a nice smell[257].
Cultivation details
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil, preferring a moist but not wet soil and a sheltered sunny position[1] or partial shade[187]. Intolerant of heavy clay[200]. A very ornamental plant, it is hardy to about -15°c[187]. A short-lived species, often dying out after 2 - 3 years, though it usually produces seed prolifically[200, 233]. 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[200]. This species is closely related to A. canadensis[200] and A. flavescens[60], often hybridizing with A. flavescens in the wild where their ranges overlap[270]. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[54].
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be slow to germinate[200]. 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[200].
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Aquilegia brevistylaSmallflower columbine21
Aquilegia buergeriana 20
Aquilegia canadensisWild Columbine, Red columbine, Meeting Houses, Common Columbine22
Aquilegia coeruleaRocky Mountain Columbine, Colorado blue columbine, Dailey's columbine, White Colorado columbine21
Aquilegia flabellataFan Columbine, Dwarf Columbine20
Aquilegia flavescensColumbine, Yellow columbine21
Aquilegia formosa truncataColumbine22
Aquilegia jonesiiColumbine, Jones' columbine, Blue limestone columbine21
Aquilegia karelinii 20
Aquilegia pubescensColumbine, Sierra columbine21
Aquilegia shockleyi 21
Aquilegia vulgarisColumbine, European columbine, Granny's Bonnet, European Crowfoot21
Semiaquilegia adoxoidesTian Kui02


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Subject : Aquilegia formosa  

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