In the rocky hills and mountains of Colorado, wildflowers burst forth with bright hues among the white trunks of aspen trees and the dark greens of the forests. Among these bright flowers is the state flower of Colorado, the lavender and white columbine. The columbine is an unexpected poised beauty in the rugged wilds of Colorado. The delicate maiden of a flower is deceptively fair when it fact, the columbine is a tough breed of wild flower that has chosen to make the rocky soil of Colorado home.
The State Flower of Colorado
The columbine was declared the state flower of Colorado in 1899. The striking wildflower was offered more protection and status in 1925 when it was declared that citizens of Colorado should protect the flower from senseless waste. To this end, it is illegal to pick more than twenty-five wild columbine blossoms a day or to pick any from personal land without permission. It is also illegal to dig or uproot the plant on state or public lands.
The protection offered to the columbine is respectful of the powerful symbol this blossom represents to the citizens of the state. The natural design of the columbine makes it uniquely beautiful as well. A bright yellow stamen is surrounded by erect white petals. This cup of white and yellow rests against the open petals of a deep or light lilac. The final effect is a lovely yet structured wild flower – a contradiction intuitive to the rugged beauty of the state of Colorado.
Although strikingly beautiful and protected within the borders of Colorado, the columbine is considered a rare wildflower. The columbines do not grow in masses along roadsides or fill the empty meadows of the mountains. Instead, the columbine grows in small batches in lightly shaded areas with well drained soil. The batches of columbines can be substantial, but the wildflower grows and germinates on its own as it carves out its space in the foothills and mountains of Colorado.
As a wildflower, columbine must be grown from seed in lightly shaded soil. The soil is best mixed with peat moss and watered occasionally. Columbine plants and seeds should be placed up to two feet apart and allowed to grow. The plants might require up to a year before blossoms will appear.