Aquilegia caerulea 'Rotstern'
Common Name: columbine 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Red sepals & spurs and white corollas
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerates 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 species may be grown from seed and may self-seed in the garden under optimum growing conditions.

'Rotstern' may be purchased as seed, generally comes true from seed and may reseed in the garden under optimum growing conditions. However, different varieties of columbine may cross-pollinate with the resulting seed being at variance from either or both parents.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aquilegia caerulea, commonly called Rocky Mountain columbine, is a bushy, clump-forming perennial which occurs in the U.S. Rocky Mountains at elevations of 6000 to 12000' from Montana south to New Mexico. In cultivation, it typically grows 1.5-2' tall and features large, upward-facing, bicolored flowers (to 3" across) with 5 pale to sky blue sepals and 5 white petals with backward-extending, straight and slender blue spurs (to 2" long). Blooms in spring. Compound, biternate, almost fern-like, medium green leaves with lobed and deeply-cleft leaflets. Foliage is somewhat suggestive of meadow rue (Thalictrum). State flower of Colorado.

Genus name comes from the Latin word for eagle in reference to the flower’s five spurs which purportedly resemble an eagle’s talon.

Specific epithet means dark blue.

'Rotstern' is a bushy, clump-forming columbine that typically grows 18-24" tall and features large, upward facing, long-spurred, primarily two-tone flowers with star-like, creamy white corollas (5 petals) and with crimson red sepals and spurs. Bushy yellow stamens add a third color. Blooms in spring. 'Rotstern' (often translated by nurseries into English as 'Red Star' or 'Crimson Star') is frequently sold as a cultivar of A. caerulea, but may have more complex parentage and is also sometimes sold as a hybrid (often with an "x cultorum" or "x hybridus" designation).


No serious insect or disease problems. Foliage usually declines by early to mid-summer at which point it should be cut to the ground.


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