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For Your Garden - May 2008

Spring has finally arrived in Illinois, and wildflowers are blooming. Maybe you are preparing your garden for some new plants. Have you ever thought of including native wildflowers in your garden? Native wildflowers are resistant to cold and drought and are rarely attacked by disease and insects. They are perennials that you can enjoy year after year without having to provide them with much care.

columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Photo © Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Growing from thick roots, the upright, branched stems of columbine may reach two feet in height. This perennial plant has leaves at the base of the plant that are doubly compound, while the leaves on the upper stems are divided and do not have stalks. Flowers are produced in clusters at the stem tip, and a single flower may be two and one-half inches long on a slender stalk. The five petals are projected backwards into five hollow spurs that are red outside and yellow inside. The genus name Aquilegia refers to “eagle,” and the five spurs resemble an eagle's claws. Columbine grows in rocky woods statewide and flowers from mid-April to July.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

 Illinois Range

 Native Plant Information

For more information about native Illinois plants, including where to purchase them and planting guides, view the following publications at our publications page. You can access more information on the Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant page, too.