Aquilegia chrysantha

Latin Name: Aquilegia chrysantha
Common Name: Columbine, Golden or Yellow Columbine
Mature Height (ft): 3-4 ft.
Mature Width: 12-18 inches

Mature Shape

Upright, many branched
Mulch: Any

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Delicate and fragile in appearance, columbines are some of the most durable, versatile plants in the West. Aquilegia chrysantha is the Texas native columbine, happy in both sun or shade, moist areas or dry. Aquilegia chrysantha is native to the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Desert canyons from west Texas, southern New Mexico, southern Utah, and Arizona south into Sonora, Coahuila, and Nuevo Leon along with a disconnected population in southern Colorado.

Beautiful blue green lacy foliage that emerges in early spring. Tall stems arise in April, followed by yellow flowers. It helps fill the bloom gap between the end of spring bulbs and heat loving flowers. A stand of columbines, which is what you should have in a few years, gives the appearance of a fairy-like woodland glen. Golden columbine blooms for 4-6 weeks, and sometimes again, but less vigorously, in the fall. Dainty flowers with spurs; an earlier common name was granny’s bonnet. Columbine attracts butterflies, hawk moths, bees and bumblebees.

Columbine reseeds quite a lot; however, I would never keep it out of the landscape.  Volunteers can be easily transplanted to other areas of the garden and containers. Deadhead to discourage excess seed production. Does wonderfully well in containers paired with blue flax.

The foliage dies back in the heat of summer, making this plant ideal in mixed borders loaded with summer and fall blooming plants. Foliage around the base returns in the fall, and freezes back in winter, only to come back again in early spring.

Other U. S. native columbines are the Rocky Mountain columbine, A. caerulea; A. canadensis, wild columbine; and A. chrysantha var. hinckleyana, Hinckley's columbine native to Presidio County, TX.

For more information on other columbines, click here.


Use in Garden

There are many uses for the versatile golden columbines in many garden situations and combinations. Makes a stunning companion to ornamental alliums, especially allium 'Purple Sensation', iris, blue flax, Missouri evening primrose and early blooming poppies. Early spring foliage creates a backdrop for daffodils and tulips, enhancing their appearance. Lacey, divided leaves and thin stems sporting delicate nodding flowers lights up like a Monet landscape.

Columbines can be transplanted in containers and combined with any number of spring blooming plants. Often containers left near a stand of columbines with start them without any effort on your part.


Transplant or pull out any unwanted seedlings. Trim foliage and stems as they die back in summer. It's really pretty easy care.