The Native Plant Database is retiring on May 31st

15 years ago, Evergreen launched the Native Plant Database as a tool to support our work in urban greenspace stewardship and restoration across Canada. In the years since, our focus as an organization has evolved and unfortunately we are unable to dedicate the necessary resources to maintain the Database in good order. After much deliberation, we have decided that it is necessary to decommission the Native Plant Database, effective May 31st, 2018.

After this date, the Database website will be taken offline. If you have registered an account, your personal information will be deleted from our server, including all saved plant lists. If you would like to save your lists or any plant information, please do so by printing it prior to May 31st.

If possible, it is our hope to transfer the Database to another organization who will continue to expand the work and contributions from Database visitors. If you work for an organization that would be interested in taking on this responsibility, please contact Thomas Hutle at Please note that due to the volume of inquiries we may not be able to respond immediately.

Thank you for your interest, contributions and support of our Native Plant Database.

Plant Detail

Aquilegia canadensis

* Common Name:

columbine, eastern red columbine, wild columbine

* Genus:


* Species:



* Family (scientific):


* Family (common):


Synonyms :

Aquilegia australis, Aquilegia canadensis var. australis, Aquilegia canadensis var. coccinea, Aquilegia canadensis var. eminens, Aquilegia canadensis var. hybrida, Aquilegia canadensis var. latiuscula, Aquilegia coccinea, Aquilegia latiuscula, Aquilegia phoenicantha

* Distribution in Canada:

New Brunswick
Nova Scotia


Photographer: Linda Read.

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* denotes fields that are currently complete in the database. The other information is not yet complete.



Boreal Shield
Atlantic Maritime
Mixedwood Plains

Natural Habitat(s):

Woodland (35-60% cover)
Forest Edge
Rocky Bluff

Habitat Garden(s):

Rooftop Garden (drought tolerant/shallow rooted)

Erosion Control?

Growing Conditions

* Plant Type:


Moisture Requirements: Dry, Normal, Moist

Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade

Soil Requirements: Sand, Loam

Temperature Zone: 3



Average Height:

30 to 90 cm


Drought Tolerant

Flower Info
Fruit/Seed Info

Showy flowers?


Showy fruit/seeds?


Bloom time:

Apr to Jul

Edible for humans?

Flower Colour(s):

Yellow, Red

Fruit/Seed Colour(s):



Fragrant Flowers?


Urban Oasis, Stewards in the City, and Eco Superior are specific Evergreen programs that some plants are used in.

Fragrant Foliage?


Program & Other Uses:

Urban Oasis

Fall colours?


Distinctive bark?


Poisonous to humans?

Thorns or prickles?


Attracts wildlife?

Butterfly Larvae

Larval host for:

Columbine Duskywing (Erynnis lucilius)

Provincial tree/flower?

Plant Watch species?


Interesting Tidbits

The upward tubes contain nectar that attracts insects, such as hawk moths, and hummingbirds that have long tongues. It is reported that Native Americans rubbed the crushed seeds on the hands of men as a love charm. columbine is called "the flower for the masses." Once started, columbine propagates for years and, although perennial, they increase rapidly by self seeding. (Andy Fyon)

This species is deer resistant. (Evergreen)

Columbines have large showy red nodding flowers, each with 5 long spurs at the back.

Seeds can be sown throughout the year, or volunteer seedlings can be transplanted as soon as they come up.

This plant can be sown in a variety of soils from well-drained sandy, medium loam, sandy loam and is often found on a thin layer of soil on a limestone base. (Wild Flower Centre, LBJ)

Habitat Information: This plants is present in many habitats such as open woods, sides of roads, and fields, but is also a common alvar plant. Columbine appears in alvars on the Bruce Penninsula and in other alvar areas in southern Ontario, such as the Carden alvar. In alvar conditions, the plant is well adapted to live in tiny divots in rock, with barely any soil. In gardens, it also seems attracted to living in, around and under rock. Red and yellow flower hang down with five spurs pointing upwards appear in April to June and attract hummingbirds, and bees.

Garden Uses: The plant will self seed under a rock down a garden path, and likes rocky low soil habitats in some areas. The plant will morph according to the conditions that the habitat allows, growing to less than 5 cm in impoverished growing conditions on alvars, or to sometimes even 1 metre tall in more fertile garden conditions. Columbine seeds itself readily, and the leaves of next year's plants come up in the fall of the year before. As columbine has a taproot (root that extends far down into the soil as an adaptation to drought), it is best to transplant columbine when small when they have a smaller root system, and trying to get as much of the taproot as possible. (Evergreen) The seeds need light to germinate (Lorraine Johnson, The New Ontario Naturalized Garden).

Insect Relationships: The following study by Michigan State University detailed insects that were attracted to specific native plant species. The following insects were shown to be attracted to this plant "Enemies Attracted: None. Pests Attracted: Small numbers of lygus bugs, aphids, thrips and froghoppers. Bees attracted: Low numbers (less than 1 bee per meter square in a 30 second sample) of sweat bees. Species Notes: ... although visually attractive, we collected almost no insects at this hummingbird pollinated plant, and zero natural enemies. This species was the least attractive to natural enemies in the early season and the entire growing season, with zero natural enemies." (Michigan State University, Native Plant Facts).

Traditional Edible, Medicinal Uses: Crushed seed used for an aromatic perfume, that lasts a long time. Some plants of same family are mildly toxic. Flowers probably safe, although records do not confirm, proceed with caution with any of the following uses. They are sweet and flavourful, filled with nectar, in salads. Root chewed to create tea for diarrhoea, stomach aches although caution advised, as above. Root astringent, diaphoretic, parasiticide, resolvent, salve, diuretic. Tea for uterine bleeding. Boiled plant used as hair wash. Seed is anodyne and febrifuge. Infusion used for headaches and fevers. (Plants for a Future)

Green Roof Applications: This drought hardy plant has been grown in soil levels 5 inches and up with excellent results. (Evergreen)

Andy's Northern ON Wildflower

Canadian BIF Butterflies

David Suzuki Foundation


Wild Flower Centre

Michigan State University

Plants for a Future

Ontario Native Plants: 2002 Resource Guide
Ontario Native Plants Company

National Audubon Society: Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region
National Audubon Society
Alfred A. Knopf, New York
ISBN: 0-394-50432-1