Friday’s Florals: Aquilega

Social Snappers Garden Columbines-

Also known as Granny’s Bonnet or Columbine.

Social Snappers Garden Columbines--2

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. The common name “columbine” comes from the Latin for “dove”, due to the resemblance of the inverted flower to five doves clustered together.

Social Snappers Garden Columbines--4

Columbine is a hardy perennial, which propagates by seed. It will grow to a height of 15 to 20 inches. It will grow in full sun; however, it prefers growing in partial shade and well drained soil, and is able to tolerate average soils and dry soil conditions. Columbine is rated at hardiness zone 3 in the USA so does not require mulching or protection in the winter.[7][8]

Large numbers of hybrids are available for the garden, since the European A. vulgaris was hybridized with other European and North American varieties. [9] Aquilegia species are very interfertile, and will self-sow.[10] Some varieties are short-lived so are better treated as biennials. The following hybrid cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit:

  • ‘Bluebird’[11] (Songbird series)
  • ‘Bunting’[12] (Songbird series)
  • ‘Dove’[13] (Songbird series)
  • ‘Florida’[14] (State series)
  • ‘Louisiana’[15] (State series)
  • ‘Origami Red and White’[16]
  • ‘Origami Rose and White’[17]

The British National Collection of Aquilegia is held by Mrs Carrie Thomas at Killay near Swansea.

Social Snappers Garden Columbines--8

Columbines have been important in the study of evolution. It was found that Sierra Columbine (A. pubescens) and Crimson Columbine (A. formosa) each have adapted specifically to a pollinator. Bees and hummingbirds are the visitors to A. formosa, whilehawkmoths would only visit A. pubescens when given a choice. Such a “pollination syndrome“, being due to flower color and orientation controlled by their genetics, ensures reproductive isolation and can be a cause of speciation.[19]

 Social Snappers Garden Columbines--10

Aquilegia petals show an enormous range of petal spur length diversity ranging from a centimeter to the 15 cm spurs of Aquilegia longissima. Selection from pollinator shifts is suggested to have driven these changes in nectar spur length.[20] Interestingly, it was shown that this amazing spur length diversity is achieved solely through changing cell shape, not cell number or cell size. This suggests that a simple microscopic change can result in a dramatic evolutionarily relevant morphological change.

Social Snappers Garden Columbines--9

Friday's Florals

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7 thoughts on “Friday’s Florals: Aquilega”

  1. I remember columbines growing rather wild around the yard when I was small. We would pick them and pull the petals off. 😦 Young scientists exploring nature. lol
    The colors of flowers are fantastic. I am looking at the first picture and the two colors …. I wouldn’t have thought would go together. But nature has a way of mixing and matching and every blend looks perfect. No wonder you love taking their picture.


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