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    Aquilegia species hybridize and are, in the words of the Flora of North America,

"difficult to define adequately.  Some of the variability is because of introgressive hybridization.  Even distantly related species of Columbine are often freely interfertile, and many cases of natural hybridization and introgression are known from North America....  In arid areas Aquilegia species tend to form small populations often completely isolated from one another.  This leads to local fixation on genes and therefore increased variability in species such as Aquilegia micrantha and Aquilegia desertorum."   

    The spurs present on most Aquilegia flowers are unique and give rise to its scientific and common names:
1) "Aquilegia", Latin for "Eagle", refers to the Eagle talon-like spurs. 
2) "Columbine", Latin ("columbinus") for "Dove", refers to the flower's resemblance (from the rear or side of the flower) to a group of Doves. 

Aquilegia micrantha
Aquilegia micrantha (Alcove Columbine)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Blooming information withheld to protect the plants.

This delicate Columbine is a Colorado Plateau endemic.   Color varies through blends of whites, pinks, and yellows. Because of these color variations and other morphological variations, the plant is broken into distinct species or sub-species by some botanists.  The Synthesis of the North American Flora and the Flora of North America consider that the variations all belong to one species, Aquilegia micrantha.

Aquilegia micrantha was first collected by famed Mesa Verde archeologist and guide, Alfred Wetherill, in the southern part of Mesa Verde prior to 1891 and again near Bluff, Utah, in 1894. Master botanist, Alice Eastwood, named and described the two different collections in 1891 and 1895.

See also Aquilegia coerulea   and   Aquilegia elegantula.

Aquilegia micrantha


Aquilegia micrantha

Aquilegia micrantha

  Aquilegia micrantha

Aquilegia micrantha

Aquilegia micrantha (Alcove Columbine)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

The green petals and sepals on the newly opened flower shown in the first photograph will soon turn to white or light yellow.  Pink, white, or yellow spurs are common.  Stanley Welsh, A Utah Flora, indicates that pale blue flowers are also found in Utah.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Questionable presence

Range map for Aquilegia micrantha