Plant of the Week
Yellow Queen Columbine
Latin: Aquilegia chrysantha
Standing out from the crowd is important in Western
culture. Each segment of society has its own unique way of recognizing
standouts; the movie people give Oscars, the corporate world gives jillion
dollar salaries; the sports world gives trophies while academicians give titles.
Programs to recognize Anew talent@ in the plant world have
gained popularity during the last decade as the flood of new plant introductions
swept across the land. The Arkansas Select program is our recognition program
that highlights new and well-adapted plants for Arkansas gardeners. This year,
five plants were selected as Arkansas Select winners. In this article, we’ll
discuss one of these, yellow queen columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha or
Yellow queen columbine is a spring blooming perennial that
grows 24 inches tall and flowers from mid-April until mid-May. Yellow queen
flowers are bright yellow and 2 inches across with five spectacular 2-inch long
spurs sticking out behind the flower like the tail of a comet. The flowers are
produced above the foliage and face forward, not looking at the ground as so
often happens with columbines.
Like all columbines, it begins growth in late winter and
produces the glaucous gray-green, much dissected leaves typical of the species.
Plants form a stout crown and have a spread of about 1 foot. The flowering scape
tends to branch freely producing a large number of flowers on well-established
is an indigenous species found in the southern Rocky Mountains in
New Mexico, Arizona and adjacent areas of Mexico. Yellow
queen is but one selection from the
species; most columbines from this species have good heat
tolerance and are well adapted to our southern gardens. Not every garden center
will carry yellow queen columbine, but most will offer
seedlings of the species or hybrids, which have this plant
as one of the parents. Seeds are available from mail order nurseries.
The selection of plants to receive Arkansas Select
designation is a collaborative effort between members of the Arkansas Green
Industry Association and the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension
Service and Department of Horticulture employees. The committee making the
selections try to identify plants that are relatively new but have been grown
enough to have confidence they will perform well across Arkansas. Yellow queen
was nominated by a central Arkansas perennial grower who has grown it for
several years and had good reports on its performance from his customers.
Yellow queen is a columbine, and like all members of that
group, individual plants do not have long lives in the garden. Individual plants
typically live three to five years and then die, but they will have produced
seedlings, which migrate through the garden and come up in surprising places.
Columbines do best in light shade in
well-drained soils. While they respond well to highly fertile site, individual
plants may persist a bit longer in soils with moderate fertility. They don't
need a lot of attention to watering, but watering during prolonged drought
periods will keep the plants healthy and happy.
Columbine leaf miner is an insect, which occasionally
infests leaves of all columbines, including yellow queen. This insect lays its
eggs on the leaves around the time the plants start flowering. The resultant
larvae tunnel through the leaves and cause serpentine trails and mar the beauty
of the plant. The most practical control is to pick off affected leaves as early
as possible and discard them in the trash, thus preventing the larvae from
completing its life cycle.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension News -
May 3, 2002
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