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     On Margaret Roach’s A Way to Garden podcast, Rebecca McMackin tells a story of Red Columbine (edited):


     Columbine – a red bell hanging from a thin, green stem – heralds the return of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, completing a journey of thousands of miles from Central America to the Northeast.


     These weary travelers rely on the sugary nectar of the Red Columbine to refuel.


     The Columbine stores its nectar on the ends of long spurs where Hummingbirds use their long tongues to reach it.


     As the birds drink the nectar, they pollinate the flower, benefiting both organisms.  McMackin goes on to explain that Hummingbirds have an extra photoreceptor that allows them to see the color red. 


     That’s why red flowers are mostly bird pollinated, she explains.


     Columbine's foliage makes an attractive groundcover once the flowers have gone and the plant can be cut to the ground. 


     Fun Fact: Aquilegia comes from the Latin word for eagle because of the shape of the petal.


     Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Red Columbine photo by Jack Dodson.



1 Gallon
    • Latin: Aquilegia canadensis
    • Pollinator value: Very High
    • Wetland status: FACU
    • Height: 1-2 feet
    • Spacing: 12 inches
    • Light: Sun to full shade
    • Soil: Well-drained
    • Landscape: Shade or wild garden plant, accent or ground cover; pair with Wild Blue Phlox, Pennsylvania Sedge and Cinnamon Fern
    • Resistance: Deer
    • Native range here
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