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USDA, NRCS. 2012. The PLANTS Database (, 5 October 2012). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Aquilegia canadensis 'Corbett'

Wild columbine

Native to North America (selection)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:  Aquilegia canadensis ‘Corbett’ is a graceful plant with delicate ferny foliage.  In spring, slender flower stalks emerge bearing pale yellow flowers.  The blooms are nodding and have spurs. Plants are a lot tougher than they look.  All they really need is a partly sunny or shaded site with average or dry garden soil.

HABITAT & HARDINESS:  This variant of the native Aquilegia Canadensis was discovered near the town of Corbett, Maryland and introduced by Bluemount Nurseries.

Plants grow best in bright woodland gardens on slopes or along paths.

Hardy from USDA Zones 3-8.

PLANT DESCRIPTION: Aquilegia canadensis ‘Corbett’ is a mounding perennial with compound round-lobed leaves.  Foliage is airy, deep green and very attractive.  A green winter rosette is present except in extremely cold climates.

Pendant flowers are held above the foliage in late spring and early summer. The flowers are comprised of 5 tubular pale yellow petals and 5 flat yellow sepals.  The petal spurs point up and contain nectar that is only accessible to long tongued pollinators like hawk moths and hummingbirds.

Plants usually attain a height of 1.5’ and a spread of 1’. 

CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDSAquilegia canadensis ‘Corbett’ grows best in partial shade but also adapts to sun and shade. 

Plants need a well drained soil.  They tolerate drought, alkaline soil and are usually not palatable to deer.

Be on the lookout for seedling volunteers because this columbine usually self sows.  Even though this is a unique selection, it comes true from seed.

LANDSCAPE USES:  Plants are perfect candidates for the Shade Garden or Wildlife Garden.  Aquilegia canadensis ‘Corbett’ is also used as an Accent, Butterfly Nectar Plant, Butterfly Host Plant, Groundcover, Grouping or Mass Planting.  It provides Showy Blooms and is a valuable component of Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Rock Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings, Perennial Borders and Meadows.

COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS:  Try planting this with spring blooming wildflowers like Phlox divaricata, Iris cristata, Spigelia marilandica, Tiarella cordifolia and Heuchera Americana ‘Dales Strain’. 

Carex pennsylvanica, Asaram canadense, Osmunda cinnamomea, Athyrium filix-femina and Polystichum acrostichoides are nice foliage companions.

Aquilegia canadensis can be substituted for this plant.  Bear in mind that the species is a larger plant with height as much as 4’.

TRIVIA:  The floral spurs are narrowed just below the nectar containing tip.  This prevents small bees or short tongued insects from sipping the nectar.  Hawk Moths and Ruby Throated Hummingbirds have no problems because their long tongues are adapted perfectly for the task.

The genus name Aquilegia comes from the Latin word for eagle (aquila), because the shape of the petal spurs is said to resemble an eagle’s talon.

Host to the Columbine Duskywing Caterpillar.

Like many other members of the Buttercup Family, Wild Columbine has unexpectedly colored sepals.  In this case they are yellow instead of the usual green.


18 in


9-12 in


18-24 in

USDA Hardiness Zone:


Bloom Color:


Aquilegia canadensis 'Corbett' Characteristics

Attracts Wildlife

  • Hummingbirds


  • Full Sun to Full Shade


  • Naturalizing
  • Long Blooming
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Clay Soil

Deer Resistant

  • Deer Resistant

Flowering Months

  • April
  • May

Foliage Color

  • Green

Growth Rate

  • Medium

Salt Tolerance

  • High

Season of Interest (Foliage)

  • Summer
  • Spring

Soil Moisture Preference

  • Moist

Plants that work well with Aquilegia canadensis 'Corbett'

Woodland Phlox Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata)
Dales alum root Dales alum root (Heuchera americana 'Dales Strain')
Creeping foam flower Creeping foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia)
Pennsylvania sedge Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica)
Cinnamon Fern (No Advance Orders) Cinnamon Fern (No Advance Orders) (Osmunda cinnamomea)
Lady fern Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina)

Substitutions for Aquilegia canadensis 'Corbett'

Wild columbine Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)