Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

What: I have been seeing these flowers a lot during my recent wanders in the woods and never knew what they were called! Their droopy shape managed to catch my eye a couple of times along with their beautiful red hue. I found this group growing at a pretty high elevation towards the summit of Mt. Philo, in between the cracks of a boulder. ( I found out later that Red Columbine is also sometimes referred to as Rock Bells! Its pretty amazing to see where some plants grow!

Ecological notes: The Red Columbine is a member of the buttercup family and likes to grow in shady, rocky areas. The plants grow up to three feet tall and is native to North America. It is pollinated by hummingbirds and contains a very sweet nectar! This plants blooms from March to July and sets fruit mid summer.

Where: These pictures were taken hiking Mt. Philo but I have also seen these beauties in Centennial Woods and the Burlington area.

Other notes: This plant is also referred to as honeysuckle which is the name I knew it by. As I peeled back the petals I sucked out the sweet nectar and was immediately brought back to those summer days eating honey suckle in my backyard as a child. Red Columbine is a popular garden perennial because it lives up to 3-5 years and can regenerate itself by seed.

 I am still wondering why these flowers face downward and what purpose this serves the plant?

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