Stems 30-72 cm. Basal leaves 2×-ternately compound, 10-30 cm, much shorter than stems; leaflets green adaxially, to 15-47 mm, not viscid; primary petiolules 22-60 mm (leaflets not crowded), pilose or rarely glabrous. Flowers nodding; sepals divergent from or perpendicular to floral axis, mostly blue or purple, lance-ovate, (10-)15-25 × 8-12 mm, apex broadly acute or obtuse; petals: spurs mostly blue or purple, hooked, 14-22 mm, stout, evenly tapered from base, blades mostly blue or purple, oblong, 10-13 × 6-10 mm; stamens 9-13 mm. Follicles 15-25 mm; beak 7-15 mm. 2n = 14 (Europe).
Phenology: Flowering spring–summer (May–Jul).
Habitat: Disturbed habitats
Elevation: 0-1500 m
Introduced; B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld. and Labr. (Nfld.), N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Conn., Ill., Iowa, Maine, Mass., Mich., Minn., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., R.I., Vt., Wash., W.Va., native to Europe.
Aquilegia vulgaris is cultivated as an ornamental and occasionally escapes into disturbed habitats. Most plants have blue or purple flowers (the wild type), but horticultural races with white or reddish flowers sometimes become established. Many cultivated columbines are derived from hybrids between A. vulgaris and related species. Some of our escaped plants are probably descended from such hybrids.