(NEXSTAR) — If you’re one of the 265,000 people who moved to Colorado last year, you may not realize there are dozens of perennials native to the state. But, only one gets the distinction of being the state flower: the Colorado blue columbine.
Sometimes known as the Aquilegia caerulea or Rocky Mountain columbine, the white and lavender flower has been a Colorado state symbol since 1899.
That year, schoolchildren across Colorado were asked to select the state flower. The blue columbine won with more than 14,000 votes.
It is, usually, a bi-colored flower, which means the sepals and petals are two different colors. You’ll see them at elevations between 6,000 and 10,000 feet, especially among Aspen stands, the University of Utah explains.
The columbine, whose name means ‘dove’ in Latin, was first discovered by a hiker on Pike’s Peak in 1820, according to Colorado State University.
While the Colorado blue columbine is the state flower of Colorado, it can be found scattered throughout the West in the Rocky Mountains, the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows. It’s also just one of 70 species of columbines found in Colorado.
The columbine is also highly photographed. Which, like many things in nature, is likely for the best. It’s also the best choice if you want to avoid legal action against you.
In Colorado, it is unlawful to pick columbines.
Nearly 100 years ago, Colorado enacted a law that makes it illegal for the columbine to be uprooted on public lands. You can gather the flower, but you’re limited to just 25 stems, buds, or blossoms per day. Before picking any columbines on private land, you’ll need to get the landowner’s consent.
You can, of course, grow your own columbines. They’re considered easy to grow, blooming from late spring to early summer. They’ll also attract hummingbirds to your yard.
If you do pick the flower, don’t eat it — all parts of it are poisonous if you ingest it, USU says.