Denver Zoo Map

Aquilegia coerulea

Colorado Blue Columbine


Class: Magnoliopsida
Sub-class: Magnoliidae
Order: Ranunculales
Family:  Ranunculaceae
Genus:  Aquilegia
Species:  coerulea


Fun Facts

  • The genus name Aquilegia comes from the Latin aquila which means eagle and refers to the spurred petals that many believe resemble an eagles talons.
  • Flowers found naturally at higher altitudes tend to be more colorful than those at lower elevations
  • Most columbine hybrids have this species as one parent



There are approximately 70 species of columbine

In Nature: This species of Aquilegia is native to the Rocky Mountains from Montana south to New Mexico and west to Idaho and Arizona.

At the Zoo: This plant grows around the native Colorado gardens which are west of the Gates Center.



Moist woods; open, mountain meadows.


Physical Description

Relatively short lived as an individual plant, maybe 4-5 years and often less in a garden setting.  It grows 1-2’ tall and 1’ wide.  Blue-green leaves emerge in spring and its flowers are purple and white in May and June.


Most perennial plants native to Colorado grow in lean soil without much organic matter.  Feeding these plants is not recommended.



This plant has an individual lifespan of roughly 5 years. In this time the plant will set lots of seed to replenish plants at all stages of development.


Conservation connection

This plant is our state flower and its collection and picking plant parts are strictly prohibited.

This plant is not threatened.  Longue tongued insects and hummingbirds enjoy the nectar and are the main pollinators.

Social Tabs
Facebook YouTube Twitter Twitter