Western Red columbine is a perennial herb that has short-lived fibrous roots and a vertical underground stem. It is 30-80 cm tall, growing from an underground stem. Compound leaves are distinctly divided into leaflets.
The flower is downward facing, with all petals prolonged backward into a tubular spur. Sepals are petal-like and typically red. Petals are yellow and become redder at the tip of the spur. Plant growth begins in early spring and this plant blooms from March to July. The fruit is produced in mid to late summer.
Above-ground portions of the plant die back to the underground stem in mid to late autumn. It is native to the Pacific Northwest and is found from Alaska to Texas. Red Columbine grows on all of the BC coast.
It is found in Cedar groves, Maple forests, and mixed conifer hardwood forests. It can also be found on wooded to open rocky hillsides, bluffs, riverbanks, beach ridges, gravelly shorelines, roadsides, quarries, and peat bogs.
It grows in thin soils over bedrock, steep hillsides of thin soil over bedrock, and on gravelly glacial marine soils. Because of highly variable genetic plasticity, populations can occur in a wide range of habitats from rich woods to rocky cliffs.