What Is The Official State Flower Of Colorado?

The Rocky Mountain Columbine, also known under its scientific name Aquilegia coerulea, is Colorado’s state flower. The name “Columbine” derives from the Latin word for dove, and symbolizes peace and purity.

Its delicate blue and violet petals and striking color combination certainly lives up to it’s latin meaning and symbolism.


Did you know: The Rocky Mountain Columbine holds such importance in Colorado that it is featured in two official state songs: “Where the Columbines Grow” and “Rocky Mountain High”  THAT’S how you know that the state flower has a sway on the hearts and minds of Coloradans.

In this article, we’ll share the history, meaning, and symbolism of the Rocky Mountain Columbine flower, as well as its appearance.

History And Symbolism Of The Columbine Flower


The Rocky Mountain Columbine holds great significance in terms of its history and symbolic meaning in the state of Colorado.

It was first discovered  by Western settlers in 1820 on Pike’s Peak mountain range and became the state flower of Colorado some 79 years later in 1899.

Before American settlers migrated Westward, Native Americans used columbine flowers and seeds for various purposes, including making tea from its roots and seeds and using it for medicinal purposes (don’t try this at home!).

In European cultures, columbine flowers have been referenced in art, literature, and mythology:

  • In Christianity, they symbolize the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • In Greek mythology, columbine was often associated with Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.
  • In Roman times, it was associated with Venus and love.
  • In Celtic culture, it was believed to serve as a portal between worlds.



The blue petals of the Rocky Mountain Columbine represent the clear sky, while the white cup symbolizes snow-capped mountains. Additionally, the yellow stamen represents the rich gold mining history of Colorado.

Columbine flower are beautiful and delicate blooms that has come to symbolize strength, wisdom, and peace.

Columbines come in various color combinations, including blue and white, purple and white, and yellow and white, and each one has different symbolic meaning and represent different ideals:

  • Orange columbine symbolizes high energy and joyfulness
  • Blue columbine means serenity and calmness
  • Pink columbine represents happiness and grace
  • Purple  columbine celebrates  the symbolism of success and accomplishments (and are great for graduation gifts)
  • Red columbine is associated with romantic love and intense emotion
  • White columbine symbolizes elegance  elegant and peacefulness, often given to soothe grief
  • Yellow columbine embodies joyfulness and positive feelings.

We’ve seen Columbine flower tattoos symbolize beauty, love, individuality, resilience, and strength. So if you are a strong individual, the columbine flower might be a great representation of your personality.

Columbines have become not only a symbol of Colorado but also a cherished part of its identity. They are often featured in artwork, jewelry designs, and even on official state emblems. Their unique appearance captures the essence of Colorado’s natural wonders, making them a beloved flower among residents and visitors alike.


Appearance And Gardening Tips

Columbines are part of the buttercup family and are native to North America – in particular the rocky highlands of the Western United States.

The coerulea flower thrives in high-altitude regions, often found nestled among rocky slopes and alpine meadows. Its ability to endure harsh conditions mirrors the resilience of Coloradans themselves.

They are short-lived perennials that self-sow easily, but seedlings can appear in different colors than the mother plant. In Colorado’s climate, most of the 70 species of columbines can be grown with half a day of sun, good drainage, and moderate moisture

What’s great is their longevity. With proper care, they can live up to several years, making them an excellent choice for perennial gardens or for those looking to add long-lasting beauty to their landscape.

They do best in USDA zones 3 to 8 and by providing adequate sunlight, well-drained soil, and regular watering without overdoing it, you can ensure your columbines, the official state flower, thrive year after year.

One of our favorite types is the Denver Gold Columbine. It is a popular variety known for its heat tolerance which spreads and multiplies year after year. It blooms from May through September. Columbines in general are wildflowers found throughout much of the U.S., but they thrive best in the Rocky Mountains, including Colorado.

We love columbines because of their ability to attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies with their nectar-rich flowers.

These pollinators play an essential role in maintaining biodiversity by aiding in the transfer of pollen from one plant to another. The presence of columbines in gardens or wild habitats helps support these vital pollinators.

Quick longetivity tip: Fresh-cut Columbine flowers should be placed in water immediately with a pinch of sugar and a splash of vinegar to prolong their freshness.

The Rocky Mountain Columbine: A Favorite Among Denver Gardeners

The Rocky Mountain Columbine has become a popular choice among Denver gardeners and gardeners across the state of Colorado.

Its striking appearance and ability to thrive in the city’s unique climate conditions make it a beloved addition to many local gardens.

Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out, the low maintenance nature of this plant makes it suitable for all skill levels. With delicate petals in shades of lavender and white, adorned with vibrant yellow centers, this flower adds a touch of elegance to any garden. 

There are two primary methods for growing Rocky Mountain Columbines: from seeds or purchased as young plants. If you opt for seeds, start indoors about 8-10 weeks before the last frost date in your area.

Sow them on top of moist seed-starting mix and gently press them into the surface without covering them completely. Maintain a consistent temperature between 60-70°F (15-21°C) until germination occurs.

To ensure optimal growth, it is important to prepare the soil properly before planting and to follow these tips:

  1. Start by loosening the soil using a garden fork or tiller to a depth of about 12 inches. This will allow for better water drainage and root penetration.
  2. While the columbine appreciates regular watering, excessive moisture can lead to root rot. Therefore, it is advisable to water when the top inch of soil feels dry but not completely parched. A good rule of thumb is to provide approximately 1 inch of water per week during dry spells.
  3. Keep your flowers in partial shade as protection from scorching sun rays. This delicate flower thrives in areas where it receives morning sun and afternoon shade or dappled light throughout the day.
    • Planting it under trees or near taller plants can provide the necessary shade without depriving it of sunlight entirely.

To ensure your Rocky Mountain Columbines continue blooming throughout the season, deadheading is essential.

Deadheading involves removing spent flowers by pinching or cutting them off at the base of the stem. This process redirects energy towards new growth and encourages the plant to produce more blooms.



In conclusion, embracing the beauty and pride of Colorado’s state flower, the Rocky Mountain Columbine, allows us to connect with nature on a deeper level.

Columbines hold deep meaning depending on their color and are associated with various qualities such as hope, new beginnings, stamina, risk-taking, good fortune, religion, and peace.

Its significance, unique features, and association with the state’s landscape make it a cherished symbol for Coloradans. So why not bring a piece of Colorado’s natural beauty into your own garden? Consider cultivating the Rocky Mountain Columbine and experience the joy it brings firsthand.


Where can I find the Rocky Mountain Columbine in Colorado?

The Rocky Mountain Columbine can be found growing in various locations throughout Colorado, including alpine meadows, rocky slopes, and even in some urban gardens.

Can I grow the Rocky Mountain Columbine in my garden if I don’t live in Colorado?

Yes! While the Rocky Mountain Columbine is native to Colorado, it can be grown successfully in other regions as well. Just ensure that you provide it with suitable growing conditions and care.

How do I care for the Rocky Mountain Columbine?

To care for the Rocky Mountain Columbine, provide it with well-draining soil, partial shade, and regular watering. Deadheading spent blooms will encourage continuous flowering.

Are there different colors of columbines besides blue?

Yes! While the blue columbines are most commonly associated with Colorado, there are also varieties that come in shades of purple, pink, white, and even bi-color combinations.

Can I attract pollinators by planting the Rocky Mountain Columbine?

Absolutely! The nectar-rich flowers of the Rocky Mountain Columbine attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to your garden. It serves as an excellent addition to any pollinator-friendly landscape.

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