Yellow Columbine
Aquilegia flavescens S. Wats.
Family: Ranunculaceae, Buttercup
Genus: Aquilegia
Other names: golden columbine
Nomenclature: flavescens = yellowish
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant

General: erect perennial, 20-70 cm tall, freely branched, from simple to branched rootstocks. Stems hairless to short-hairy and glandular.

Leaves: mainly basal, reduced upward, the stalks, long, hairless to copiously short-hairy and more or less glandular. Stem leaves few, short-stalked. Leaf blades divided in 3's, the leaflets thin, wedge-shaped, 2-3 times shallowly to deeply lobed with rounded tips, usually with a bluish-white cast and short-hairy beneath, 15-55 mm long.

Flowers: pale yellow, nodding, usually several in loose clusters. Petals 5, yellow, rarely slightly pinkish, 6-13 mm long, each with a long, slender spur, which is nearly straight but somewhat curved inward, 10-15 mm long. Sepals yellow to whitish or pinkish, spreading, lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate, 15-25 mm long. June-August.

Fruits: erect clusters of 5 slender pods (follicles), splitting open along the inner side, copiously glandular-short-hairy, about 2 cm long, the tips spreading.


Moist mountain meadows or open woods to alpine slopes, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from B.C. and Alberta to w. WY, CO, UT, and much of ID.
Edible Uses

The flowers of yellow columbine are edible raw. Rich in nectar, they are said to be sweet and delightful, and make a very attractive addition to mixed salads and can also be used as a thirst-quenching munch in the garden.

Medicinal Uses

The plant is antispasmodic, and has agents that induce sweating, and promote the resolving and removing of abnormal growths, such as tumors.

Other Uses

The seed has been used as a parasiticide to rid the hair of lice.

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