Thursday, July 26, 2012

Favorite flower: Aquilegia or Columbine

 By Linda Grimwade

We have these interesting hybrids in a variety of colors in all our flowerbeds, but have not tried eating them.

Information from Wikipedia:
The genus name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for eagle (aquila), because the shape of the flower petals, which are said to resemble an eagle's claw.
"Columbine" is derived from the Latin word for pigeon (columba). Another old-fashioned name for this cottage garden plant is "Granny's Bonnet" as the shape of the bloom resembles the mob caps old women used to wear.

They are used as food plants by some Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) caterpillars. These are mainly of noctuid moths – noted for feeding on many poisonous plants without harm – like Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae), Dot Moth (Melanchra persicariae) and Mouse Moth (Amphipyra tragopoginis). The Engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia), a geometer moth, also uses columbine as larval foodplant.
Several species are grown in gardens, including the European Columbine (A. vulgaris), a traditional garden flower in many parts of the world. Numerous cultivars and hybrids have also been developed as well.

They are easy to propagate from seed.
Columbine is a perennial, which propagates by seed. It will grow to a height of 15 to 20 inches. It will grow in full sun, however, prefers growing in partial shade and well drained soil, and is able to tolerate average soils and dry soil conditions. Columbine is rated hardiness of Zone 3 so does not require mulching or protection in the winter.
Large numbers of hybrids are now available for the garden, since the British A vulgaris was joined by other European and N American varieties.  Aquilegia species are very interfertile, and will self sow.

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