Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Columbine

Smoky Mountains Wildflowers: Columbine
Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) © William Britten use with permission only

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is a delicate and beautiful presence all along Little River Rd in the Smoky Mountains during April. Look opposite of the river, along the rock walls that border the road. Their pale orange and yellow colors actually blend into the surroundings as you drive by, but if you stop at almost any of the pullouts along the road, you will see plenty of Columbine. It can grow up to four feet tall, but most of the plants are closer to two feet.

The common name Columbine means “dove,” and the genus name Aquilegia means “eagle.” These names allude to the upper part of the blossom, which resembles the talons of these birds. In fact, the Columbine was proposed as the National wildflower because of its eagle-like properties.

The deep blossoms are pollinated primarilly by hummingbirds.

Smoky Mountains Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Smoky Mountains Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) © William Britten use with permission only

For taking photos of Columbine, the dark backdrop of a rock wall makes for impressive contrast. In springtime, these walls often drip with seepage, making the wildflowers even more colorful and fresh.

The William Britten Gallery along Glades Rd in Gatlinburg has a wonderful collection of Smoky Mountains photos. Come on in and pick out a Smokies memory for your home!

Wildflower Aquilegia canadensis
Wildflower Aquilegia canadensis © William Britten use with permission only

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