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Aquilegia formosa

Higher Taxonomy
Family: RanunculaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Annual, perennial herb, woody vine [shrub], occasionally aquatic. Leaf: generally basal and cauline, alternate or opposite, simple or compound; petioles at base generally flat, occasionally sheathing or stipule-like. Inflorescence: cyme, raceme, panicle, or flowers 1. Flower: generally bisexual, generally radial; sepals 3--6(20), free, early-deciduous or withering in fruit, generally green; petals 0--many, generally free; stamens generally 5--many, staminodes generally 0; pistils 1--many, ovary superior, chamber 1, style 0--1, generally +- persistent as beak, ovules 1--many. Fruit: achene, follicle, berry, +- utricle in Trautvetteria, in aggregate or not, 1--many-seeded.
Genera In Family: +- 60 genera, 1700 species: worldwide, especially northern temperate, tropical mountains; many ornamental (Adonis, Aquilegia, Clematis, Consolida, Delphinium, Helleborus, Nigella). Toxicity: some highly TOXIC (Aconitum, Actaea, Delphinium, Ranunculus). Note: Taxa of Isopyrum in TJM (1993) moved to Enemion; Kumlienia moved to Ranunculus.
eFlora Treatment Author: Margriet Wetherwax & Dieter H. Wilken, family description, key to genera
Scientific Editor: Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: AquilegiaView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: COLUMBINE
Habit: Perennial herb; caudex thick, branched to not. Stem: 1--few, ascending to erect, branched to not, scapose to not, glabrous to glandular-hairy. Leaf: basal 1--3-ternate, petiole generally long; cauline 0--few, generally much reduced, deeply 3-lobed to 1--2-ternate, petiole short to +- 0; segments generally wedge-shaped to obovate, abaxially pale green to glaucous, adaxially green to gray, glabrous to glandular. Inflorescence: few-flowered raceme or flower 1, terminal; axis, pedicels glabrous to glandular; flowers generally nodding. Flower: sepals 5, petal-like, spreading [to +- reflexed]; petals 5, spurs between sepals, mouths < to > 90° to exposed filaments; pistils generally 5. Fruit: follicle, glabrous to glandular. Seed: smooth, shiny, brown to black.
Species In Genus: +- 70 species: temperate North America, Eurasia. Etymology: (Perhaps Latin: eagle, from spurs, or water-drawer, from habitats) Note: Many species, hybrids cultivated as ornamental; natural hybrids common; recent adaptive radiation with specialized pollinations syndromes (bee, hummingbird, hawkmoth).
eFlora Treatment Author: Justen Whittall, Scott A. Hodges & Dieter H. Wilken
Unabridged Reference: Munz 1946 Gentes Herb 7:1--150

Aquilegia formosa Fisch. ex DC.
Habit: Plant 20--80(150) cm, glabrous, glaucous at least proximally. Leaf: basal, lower cauline generally 2-ternate, petioles 5--30(40) cm, leaflets 7--45(130) mm; upper cauline generally simple to deeply 3-lobed. Flower: sepals 10--20(25) mm, red; petal blade 0 or 1--7 mm, yellow, spur 12--23 mm, red, tip 1.5--4 mm wide, mouth <= 90° to exposed filaments, 4--6 mm wide, +- round; stamens 10--18 mm. Fruit: 15--28 mm, beak 9--12 mm. Chromosomes: 2n=14.
Ecology: Streambanks, seeps, moist places, chaparral, oak woodland, mixed-evergreen or conifer forests; Elevation: < 3300 m. Bioregional Distribution: CA-FP (exc GV, SCo, ChI), GB; Distribution Outside California: to Alaska, Montana, Baja California. Flowering Time: Apr--Sep Note: Generally hummingbird-pollinated; leaf, petal blade variation needs study.
Synonyms: Aquilegia formosa f. anomala J.T. Howell; Aquilegia formosa var. hypolasia (Greene) Munz; Aquilegia formosa var. pauciflora (Greene) Boothman; Aquilegia formosa var. truncata (Fisch. & C.A. Mey.) Baker;
Jepson eFlora Author: Justen Whittall, Scott A. Hodges & Dieter H. Wilken
Unabridged Reference: Munz 1946 Gentes Herb 7:1--150
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botanical illustration including Aquilegia formosa


Citation for this treatment: Justen Whittall, Scott A. Hodges & Dieter H. Wilken 2012, Aquilegia formosa, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on December 10, 2018.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2018, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on December 10, 2018.

Aquilegia formosa
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© 2007 Neal Kramer
Aquilegia formosa
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© 2008 Keir Morse
Aquilegia formosa
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© 2007 Thomas Stoughton
Aquilegia formosa
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© 2003 George W. Hartwell
Aquilegia formosa
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© 2008 Keir Morse
Aquilegia formosa
click for enlargement
© 2008 Keir Morse

More photos of Aquilegia formosa in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Aquilegia formosa:
CA-FP (exc GV, SCo, ChI), GB;
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

View elevation by latitude chart
Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.