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What’s in Your Garden?

By Kathi Thistlethwaite, Colorado Master Gardener

Do you know the Colorado State flower, grass and insect? Meet the Colorado columbine, blue grama grass and the Colorado hairstreak butterfly! These are but a few of the symbols of our state and are the most likely to be found in a garden.

The Colorado Columbine(Aquilegia caerulea,) was adopted as the official state flower on April 4, 1899, protecting it from needless waste or destruction. Digging or uprooting the flower on public lands is prohibited and the gathering of buds, blossoms and stems is limited to 25 in one day. It requires partial shade with moist, well-drained soil. This beautiful species, native to the Rocky Mountains, flowers May thru June.

Hardiness Zone: 3 to 9

Height: 3 ft.

Spacing: 15 in.

Type: herbaceous perennial

Flowers: blue and white

Propagation: Seed or division


Blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis) was adopted as the official state grass on May 20,1987. It is native to Colorado, growing throughout both sides of the Continental Divide. Grasslands are an important resource with considerable economic and conservation significance. A state grass was designated to help educate citizens and tourists about this resource. Blue grama is a native, perennial, warm-season, short grass that seldom grows taller than 20 inches. Blue grama reproduces only by seed, and as the seed heads mature, they usually bend into a curve that resembles a human eyelash.


The Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly (Hypaurotis crysalus) can usually be found in areas where its host plant, Gambel’s oak (Quercus gambelii), is common. The adults lay eggs on oak leaves or bark in late summer to early fall. The caterpillars emerge from the eggs in early spring and feed on the Gambel’s oak leaves as they develop.


It is one of North America’s most beautiful butterflies. Its coloration is purple with a wide black-to-brown border containing orange spots. Like many other hairstreak species, adult Colorado hairstreaks have a “tail” emerging from the lower portion of each hind wing.  It was designated the state insect of Colorado in 1996. For further information, visit

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