The red wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is a member of the buttercup family. This perennial wildflower is also sometimes called rock bells because of its bell-like flowers, and it looks somewhat similar (although not as showy) as the garden columbines. The flowers are bright red and have five tubular petals that droop down instead of facing up, and the showy yellow stamen hangs down even lower.
Wild columbines like shady, rocky areas and often seem to be actually growing out of a rock or from underneath a rock (which explains why they grow so well here!). The plants grow up to three feet tall and have a fragile, spindly look, with leaves growing in groups of three.
I remember calling these plants honeysuckle, and as children we used to bite off the little rounded tips of the flower petals and suck out the sweet honey-like nectar inside. Hummingbirds, bees, and long-tongued insects like this nectar too.
Red columbine can be cultivated, although all of the red columbine I have here are growing wild. One interesting point is that if red columbine is given rich, loamy soil, it will produce striking flowers, but its life will be short.
In its natural rocky soil, it will live for a long time but will produce fewer and smaller flowers, even if the soil is fertile.