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Aquilegia vulgaris

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Fens, gardens, grassland, meadows, parks, roadsides, rocky places, woodland.

Variable in colour, 5 petals
Easily recognizable with its blue flowers, having 5 tubular petals with hooked spurs. The name Columbine is derived from the Latin name for dove 'columba' because from below, the petals are said to look like 5 doves sat in a circle.
A dry pod which splits open upon ripening.
Green compound leaves with a bluish tinge, fan-like in appearance. The leaflets are round and notched.
Other Names:
American Bluebells, American Snapdragon, Cock's Foot, Common Columbine, Culverwort, Dove Plant, European Columbine, God's Breath, Granny's Bonnet, Granny's Nightcap, Lady's Shoes, Lion's Herb, Naked Woman's Foot, Pigeon Flower, Sow Wort.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Aquilegia vulgaris, also known as common columbine or European columbine, is a species of flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae. It is native to Europe, but it has been introduced to many other parts of the world and is now found on every continent except Antarctica. Common columbine is a perennial herb that grows to a height of 30-80 cm. It has hairy stems and leaves, and it produces showy, spurred flowers that are typically red, pink, or purple in color. The plant is popular in horticulture and is grown in gardens for its attractive flowers. It is also used in traditional medicine in some parts of the world.


Columbine, also known as Aquilegia vulgaris, is a beautiful and unique wildflower that is native to Europe but can also be found in other parts of the world, including North America. With its delicate, drooping blooms and graceful, fern-like leaves, columbine adds a touch of charm and beauty to gardens, meadows, and woodland edges.

The name columbine comes from the Latin word for "dove," due to the plant's resemblance to a flock of doves in flight. The flowers are typically blue, purple, red, yellow, or white, and they have a distinctive, spurred shape that is unlike any other flower in the garden. Each bloom is made up of five petals that form a bell-like shape, with two long, slender spurs that extend from the bottom of the flower.

One of the most fascinating things about columbine is its pollination process. The spurs on the flowers contain nectar that is attractive to hummingbirds and other pollinators. When a hummingbird or insect visits the flower in search of nectar, it must reach deep into the spur to get to the sweet reward. In doing so, the pollinator brushes against the flower's reproductive structures, transferring pollen and facilitating pollination.

Columbine is a hardy perennial that is easy to grow and care for. It prefers a sunny to partially shady location and well-drained soil. It is also relatively drought-tolerant and does not require a lot of maintenance, making it a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a low-maintenance, attractive flowering plant.

In addition to its beauty, columbine is also an important source of nectar for pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. This makes it an important part of the ecosystem and a valuable addition to any garden or landscape that is focused on supporting pollinators.

Columbine is not only valued for its beauty but also for its medicinal properties. The plant has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat various ailments, including digestive problems and respiratory conditions. The leaves, roots, and flowers of the plant contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antispasmodic properties.

In addition to its medicinal uses, columbine is also a popular ornamental plant. Its delicate flowers and delicate foliage make it a popular choice for rock gardens, cottage gardens, and wildflower meadows. It's also a great choice for naturalistic or woodland gardens, as it blends well with other native plants and creates a harmonious and peaceful environment.

Another interesting fact about columbine is its symbolism. In many cultures, the columbine flower is associated with love, devotion, and gratitude. It is often given as a gift to express these emotions and is often included in bouquets for weddings, anniversaries, and other special occasions.

Columbine is also a popular subject for artists and photographers, as its delicate beauty and unique form make it an inspiring subject to capture. Whether you're a professional photographer or just enjoy taking pictures, columbine is a great subject to photograph, especially when it's in full bloom.

In conclusion, columbine is a versatile, beautiful, and important plant that is well worth adding to your garden or landscape. With its delicate flowers, easy-care nature, medicinal properties, and cultural significance, it's a must-have for any garden enthusiast.

One of the best things about columbine is its versatility in the garden. It can be grown in a variety of soils, from heavy clay to well-draining sand, and can thrive in a range of light conditions, from full sun to partial shade. This makes it a great choice for gardeners in a variety of climates and conditions.

In terms of care, columbine is a relatively low-maintenance plant. It prefers well-draining soil and will benefit from regular watering, especially during dry periods. However, it is also drought-tolerant and can thrive in conditions where other plants may struggle. It is also relatively pest- and disease-resistant, making it an ideal choice for gardeners who want a low-maintenance, attractive flowering plant.

One of the most exciting things about columbine is the variety of colors and forms available. From classic blue and purple to striking red and yellow, there's a columbine to suit every taste and garden style. There are also different flower shapes and sizes, from large, showy blooms to more delicate, nodding flowers. With so much variety available, you're sure to find a columbine that's perfect for your garden.

Columbine is also a great choice for gardeners who are interested in attracting pollinators to their gardens. The nectar-rich flowers are a favorite of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, making it an important source of food for these important creatures. In addition, the leaves and stems of the plant are also a food source for many species of caterpillars, making it an important part of the ecosystem and a valuable addition to any wildlife-friendly garden.

Finally, columbine is a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a plant that will last for years to come. It is a long-lived perennial that will come back year after year, providing years of beauty and enjoyment. With its easy-care nature, low maintenance requirements, and long lifespan, columbine is a great investment for your garden.

It's also worth mentioning that columbine is a great choice for gardeners who are looking to create a sustainable garden. The plant is native to many parts of Europe and North America and is well adapted to a variety of conditions. By planting native species like columbine, gardeners can help to conserve local ecosystems and support the survival of native plants and wildlife.

In addition, columbine is easy to propagate, making it a great choice for gardeners who want to share this wonderful plant with friends and family. The plant can be easily divided in spring or autumn, or you can sow seeds in a prepared seed bed. With its easy-care nature and ability to spread, columbine is a great choice for anyone who wants to create a beautiful and sustainable garden.

One final benefit of columbine is its suitability for container gardening. The plant has a compact growth habit and is ideal for growing in pots or window boxes. This makes it a great choice for gardeners who have limited space, or for those who want to bring a touch of the garden into their home. Whether you have a large garden or a small balcony, columbine is a great choice for anyone who loves gardening.

In conclusion, columbine is a versatile, beautiful, and valuable plant that has a lot to offer gardeners. With its wide range of colors, forms, and uses, its importance in the ecosystem, its low-maintenance nature, and its suitability for container gardening, columbine is a must-have for anyone who loves gardening. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just starting out, columbine is a great choice for your garden, and will bring years of beauty and enjoyment.


Columbine filmed by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal on the 14th June 2022.


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