Colorado Blue Columbine by Josef F. StueferPhoto by Josef F. Stuefer

Fast Facts

  • Proclaimed Colorado’s state flower in 1899
  • Botanical name: Aquilegia caerulea
  • Also known as Rocky Mountain Columbine
  • Columbine trivia: The Columbine’s name derives from the Latin for columba, meaning dove.
  • Colorado Flower Delivery

Let’s hear it for the children of Colorado. If it weren’t for their input in 1891, state lawmakers might not have chosen the lovely white and lavender columbine as the Colorado state flowers over its nearest contender, a cactus.

In a state known more widely for its snow than its aridity, a mountain wildflower seems a more appropriate choice. State lawmakers agreed, and in 1899, the Colorado General Assembly decreed the white and lavender columbine the Colorado state flower. (Interestingly, the columbine is also the subject of one of the state’s two official songs. However, many residents are much more familiar with the other song, John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High.”)

Coloradans have good reason to be proud of their state flower. The perennial’s blooms are distinctive and beautiful. Unfolding in early to mid-May and blossoming through June, columbines are generally characterized by an outer set of blue spurs and white sepals and an inner ring of white upright petals. These graceful, bell-shaped petals, which can also be blue, are modified nectar spurs from which butterflies and hummingbirds can drink the sweet liquid. At the center of the flower is a cluster of slender yellow stamens.

Rocky Mountain Columbine by Rob DuvalPhoto by by Rob Duval

Colorado’s state flower grows in moist, rich, rocky soil and in light sun. It thrives in meadows, woods and mountains and is native throughout the western United States. In Colorado, columbines are actually rare. They are most often found at elevations between 7,000 to 10,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains outside of Denver and Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs. Flowers from the Columbine often appear in images touting the state’s summertime beauty, drawing hikers to the mountains from suburbs such as Aurora and Lakewood.

Despite its wild nature, Colorado’s state flower is sometimes featured in gardens in the state. Gardeners like it because of its ability to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Though the plants last for only a few years, each bloom they produce is a delight!

Sources:

My Garden Guide.com

http://www.mygardenguide.com/plant_detail.html?id=14709

Colorado government

http://www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit/archives/history/symbemb.htm#Flower