The basal leaves of aquilegia elegantula
grow on long stalks (up to 12 inches) and are divided into three leaflets, each partially divided into three smaller, lobed segments, which have rounded tips. Leaflets can be up to 1.3 inches long. Leaves are bright green in color, whitish at the attachment point. Stems and leaves are hairless.
The flowers are around one inch long and point downwards, attached by slender, curving stalks. Flowers have five lance-shaped sepals, angled generally forwards, at most around 30 degrees from the axis, colored greenish-yellow around the tip, red towards the base. The five petals are bright yellow or greenish yellow, while the backwards-projecting spurs are uniformly red, and straight, tapering smoothly to the slightly swollen tip. Petal blades are a little shorter than the sepals. The stamens and pistils project beyond the petal tips.