Aquilegia flabellata var. pumila 'Alba'
Common Name: fan columbine 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil 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 plant may be grown from seed and may self-seed in the garden under optimum growing conditions. However, different varieties of columbine may cross-pollinate in the garden when grown in the same area producing seed that is at variance with either or both parents.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aquilegia flabellate, commonly known as fan columbine, is a compact perennial that typically grows in a mound to only 8-18” tall with a spread to 12”. It is native to eastern Asia (Japan and Korea). Flowers (each to 2” wide) feature nodding lilac blue to purple-blue sepals and creamy white petals with short incurved spurs (to 1” long). Flowers bloom in spring (April-May). Compound leaves with overlapping, rounded, fan-shaped, blue green leaf segments are 2 to 3 ternate. Leaf segments are thicker and have more blue coloration than is found on the leaf segments of most other species in the genus.

Var. pumila is a very compact columbine which typically grows in a mound to only 6-9" tall.

Synonymous with A. f. 'Nana'.

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 comes from the Latin word flabellatus mean fanlike in reference to leaflet shape.

'Alba' is a very compact columbine which typically grows in a mound to only 6-8” tall. It is a bushy, clump-forming perennial that features short-spurred (incurved), nodding, white flowers.


No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to leaf miner. Watch for columbine borer. Foliage usually declines by mid-summer at which point it should be cut to the ground.


Compact shape makes this one of the better columbines for rock gardens. Also good in borders, cottage gardens, open shade gardens or naturalized areas. Can be effective in the sun-dappled areas of woodland gardens. Continue to water plants after bloom to enjoy the ground cover effect of the attractive foliage.