Aquilegia (Common Name: Columbine)

The Latin word “columba” means dove or pigeon, and it is said that the petals of the columbine look like birds (doves) in flight which is how the flower acquired its common name. 

But the botanical name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word “aquilinum” which means “like an eagle” because the bright yellow spurs in the center of the flower are said to resemble eagle’s talons or claws.  

Columbines are best utilized in a woodland garden. Flowers appear in spring along with delicate fern-like foliage (which, alas, is susceptible to leaf miner by mid-summer). Once flower production has ceased, allow the seeds to drop and propagate naturally. The plants can then be cut to the ground where they will lay dormant until the following spring. Combine with ferns, hostas, solomon’s seal, and other shade-loving perennials that will fill in the woodland border once the columbines are gone for the season.