Aquilegia fragrans
Common Name: sweet-scented columbine 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Native Range: Southwestern Asia
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Creamy yellow and white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
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. 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. May be grown from seed and may self-seed in the garden. However, different varieties of columbine may cross-pollinate in the garden producing seed that is at variance with either or both parents.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aquilegia fragrans, commonly called fragrant columbine, is a fragrant columbine. It is native to sub-alpine meadows in the western Himalayas (Pakistan and northern India). It typically grows to 12-18” tall and features large, nodding, short-spurred flowers that have pale yellow/cream sepals and white petals that are sometimes subtly tinged with blue. Flowers have a sweet, honeysuckle-like fragrance. Flowers bloom in spring. Triternate, almost fern-like foliage shape is somewhat suggestive of meadow rue (Thalictrum). Synonymous with A. glauca.

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 fragrant in reference to the fragrant flowers.


Susceptible to leaf miner. Foliage usually declines by mid-summer at which point it should be cut to the ground.


Good columbine for rock gardens, border fronts or containers. Also effective in open woodland gardens or naturalized areas. Continue to water plants after bloom to enjoy the ground cover effect of the attractive foliage.