Aquilegia olympica
Common Name: columbine 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Native Range: Caucasus, Iran, Turkey
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: White petals with blue sepals
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 moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils except heavy, poorly drained ones. Prefers organically 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. Plants may be easily grown from seed, will self seed in the garden and will naturalize in the garden over time. It should be noted, however, that seed collected from garden plants may not come true because different varieties of columbine may cross-pollinate in the garden producing seed that is at variance with either or both parents.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aquilegia olympica, commonly called columbine, is a clump-forming perennial that typically grows to 2 1/2' tall on branched upright stems. This species is native from southern Russia to northern Turkey and Iran. Basal leaves are biternate with leaflets to 1 1/2" long. Nodding flowers (to 2" diameter) with white petals, blue sepals and short strongly hooked backward projecting spurs bloom in late spring to early summer atop wiry stems rising above the foliage mound.

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


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


Borders, rock gardens, cottage gardens, open shade gardens, woodland gardens or naturalized areas. Also a good selection for a hummingbird garden. Continue to water plants after bloom to enjoy the ground cover effect of the foliage.