Aquilegia 'Swallowtail'
Common Name: columbine
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Zone: 5 to 10
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Yellow and lemon-yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils except heavy, poorly-drained ones. Prefers rich, moist soils with light to moderate shade. Remove flowering stems after bloom to encourage additional bloom. Keep soils uniformly moist after bloom to prolong attractive foliage appearance. When foliage depreciates, plants may be cut to the ground. This cultivar may be purchased as seed, generally comes true from seed and may reseed in the garden under optimum conditions. However, different varieties of columbine may cross-pollinate, with the resulting seed being at variance from either or both parents.

Noteworthy Characteristics

‘Swallowtail’ plants were reportedly found growing in the wild in a mountainous area in Pima County, Arizona. The parentage for this plant has not yet been determined. This is a clumping perennial that typically grows to 24-30” tall and 18” wide. Yellow and lemon-yellow bicolor flowers with 4” long trailing spurs bloom in May to early June. Blue-green leaves. Aquilegia comes from the Latin word for eagle in reference to the flowers spurs which purportedly resemble the talons of an eagle.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to leaf miner. In St. Louis, foliage usually declines by mid-summer at which point it should be cut to the ground.

Garden Uses

Borders, cottage gardens, open shade gardens or naturalized areas. Also a good selection for a hummingbird garden.