Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crimson columbines at streambanks northwest of Donner Lake

Crimson columbine plants are native to Northwest America from Southern Alaska south to Baja California, and east to Montana, Wyoming and Utah. They prefer open or partly shaded sites in moist habits such as seeps, streambanks and meadows. The shown flower and leaves belong to a plant seen along the
Donner Lake Rim Trail (DLRT) west of Summit Lake at a bank of a small stream flowing through coniferous forest. This and neighboring plants were tall (as high as 80 cm). While some closed flowers were found in upward position, the long-spurred open flowers were all hanging upside down: five sepals, five petals and many yellow stamens. The green leaves are divided in leaflets—being deeply pinnately lobed.

The beautiful flowers attract hummingbirds as pollinators and humans as photographers

The crimson columbine is a species of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). Its binomial name is Aquilegia formosa and other common names are western columbine, red columbine and Sitka columbine [1-3].

References and more
[1] Richard Spellenberg: North American Wildflowers. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2001; page 707.
[2] Laird R. Blackwell: Tahoe WildflowersA Month-by-Month Guide to Wildflowers in the Tahoe Basin and Surrounding Areas. A Falcon Guide, Morris Book Publishing, LLC, 2007; page 68.
[3] USDA Plants Profile: Aquilegia Formosa Fisch ex. DC. - western columbine [ plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AQFO].
[4] CalPhotos: http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?text_only=0&display1=image+ID+num&where-calrecnum=430.

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