This must be one of my favorite finds to date. We have wild columbine, or red columbine, in abundance all over the Hills, but blue columbine, aquilegia brevistyla, is one I’ve never had the delight of finding. We hiked Hell Canyon this afternoon (one of my favorite hikes to date), and this little gem was growing prolifically in the canyon itself. My wonderful, handy field guide, Plants of the Black Hills and Bear Lodge Mountains, states, “Blue columbine….is much less common than [wild columbine, aquilegia canadensis] and is never abundant where it is found.” Well. Today it was abundant.
I had never seen one before and sort of figured I was unlikely to ever see one, but I can now put a check mark next to its entry in my field guide, and revel in the pleasure of a rare find.