Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Desert Columbine: Aquilegia desertorum

Aquilegia desertorum flower buds
Delighted!  Another flower and more buds are coming along on the desert columbine.  This is little Aquilegia desertorum, a native of Arizona, but nevertheless a true columbine, with small, spurred flowers in brilliant yellow and scarlet.
Aquilegia desertorum
Although native to the state, it is not expected to be particularly xeric.  Its home is in the mountains, and it loves to grow where there is natural water seepage.  Nevertheless, it is said to adapt well to lower elevations.  I am watching it carefully, and so far it has been very comfortable growing just below the "Sterling Silver" rose, where it receives perhaps half a day of light shade.  I hope to eventually add a few taller plants nearby to increase the shade, but it will have to endure this summer without, I'm afraid.  The real test has yet to come, but so far it has grown extremely well since planting in March.

It's a lovely thing with hummingbird flowers: red and yellow.
Aquilegia desertorum
The leaves are very recognizable, though perhaps a little more sparse than regular garden hybrids.
Aquilegia desertorum leaves
There is another, better-known Southwestern columbine, namely A. chrysantha, which has produced some beautiful hybrids available in commerce.  These are also said to be good options here in the desert, especially as they tolerate the intense sunlight well.

In the meantime, I am thoroughly enjoying this bright little beauty.
Aquilegia desertorum
Weather Diary: Mostly sunny, High: 96 F (35.6 C)/Low: 65 F (18.3 C)
Yesterday did reach 100 F (37.8 C), so perhaps it should be considered the "first" day of summer...!


  1. Now, you're hotter than we are - and our temps are due to drop significantly tomorrow. I didn't know there was a desert columbine before seeing this one on your blog - I'll have to check on whether it would work here.

    1. It had to happen eventually...! I'm really enjoying this plant; it seems very vigorous despite being more petite than hybrids like McKana's Giants or the Songbird series. It is said to need regular water; I don't know what it can or can't deal with in that respect. I'm trying to keep the roots cool with chunks of rock as well as some mulch...