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Discover Nature: Columbine

Red and yellow spur-shaped columbine flowers hang like bells from stems with small, deep-green leaves on a cliff face.
Flowers of the columbine plant (Aquilegia canadensis) have a distinct shape. The five petals form long, hollow, red spurs containing nectar, and the five sepals are leaflike, light yellow, and attached between the petals.

This week on Discover Nature, a poisonous perennial wildflower shows off bright red- and yellow-blossoming spurs.

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is in full bloom in Missouri this week. Growing about two-feet tall, often in shaded areas in woodlands and hanging from rock cliffs, this hardy native wildflower is also a favorite among landscape gardeners. 

The plants are toxic for human consumption, but they provide an important food source for humming birds and other pollinators such as butterflies and moths that are able to feed from the deep nectaries inside each flower. 

Native Americans used these plants for various medicinal purposes, and some used them as a love potion by rubbing ground seeds on their palms before grasping the hands of their beloved, or of people they wished to persuade. 

Learn more about columbine, and find public land near you to see these brightly blooming flowers this week with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation. 


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