COLUMBINE

Aquilegia vulgaris

Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]

month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8blue
inner
inner8indigo
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZtrumpet
type
typeZspurred
stem
stem8round
toxicity
toxicityZsevere

27th May 2005, Chinley, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Growing up to a metre tall, it is popular in gardens, this particular sample above being a cultivated garden variety for it is not the deep blue of most wild varieties (but some wild varieties can be purple, pink or white).


13th May 2011, High Park Wood, Whitbarrow, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
A deep blue native variety, which have five very hooked spurs at the top. Right at the tip of these are the nectarines which secrete nectar internally down the tubes.


13th May 2011, High Park Wood, Whitbarrow, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The flowers droop downwards on a stalk curved over at the top. The five outer sepals may have green tinges and look like petals (petaloid). The true petals also number five and have a hooked spur projecting above and over the flower.


13th May 2011, High Park Wood, Whitbarrow, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
These five inner petals are trumpet shaped, narrowing down to the tubular hooked spurs at the top. From a central pedestal numerous white stamens bearing creamy anthers at the tips hang down.


13th May 2011, High Park Wood, Whitbarrow, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
From above the five sepals spread out whilst the five petals with their tubular hooks point earthwards. Flower dangles from a single central stem.


13th May 2011, High Park Wood, Whitbarrow, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The five openings of the trumpet-shaped petals can here be clearly seen. Each opening bears a lip (or petal).


13th May 2011, High Park Wood, Whitbarrow, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are un-mistakable, being trefoil in pattern, with the three leaflets each having several asymmetrical and well-rounded lobes. The leaves of Greater Celandine have a certain similarity. Stems hairy.


13th May 2011, High Park Wood, Whitbarrow, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The main stem usually branch; at the branches are three narrow lanceolate leaves set to point at the corners of an isosceles triangle. Stems have short hairs.


16th April 2008, Maiden Castle, Shropshire. Photo: © RWD
The leaves of a probably cultivated variety.


Stair, Borrowdale, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Light blue and deep purple garden varieties; the leaves are slightly wider.


28th May 2003, Cromford, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Probably an escaped purple garden variety.


9th June 2004, Deepdale, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Probably a native white variety.


12th June 2008, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
A probable garden variety (the five spurs are not hooked enough to be of the native variety).


23rd May 2011, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
After flowering the flower stem straightens up to present the five growing seed pods standing upright atop a pedestal.


23rd May 2011, Walkden, Gtr M/cr. Photo: © RWD
Seed pods are hairy and contain several seeds each. Eventually they will turn brown when ripe. They are reminiscent of the tectarines in several Hellebores, such as Black Hellebore.


Not to be confused with : Pyrenean Columbine which is smaller and related to Columbine, but only found in very few locations in the UK.

Some similarities to : Monkshood in that the flower is deep blue and deeply convoluted in form.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

The flowers themselves have been eaten by native Americans as a very sweet condiment, but are reported to be poisonous if eaten in quantity.

Columbine inhabits woods, fens and damp limy grassland which is where the Whitbarrow sample was located above. It is much grown in gardens, and much more likely to be found growing in a garden than in the wild. Garden varieties are cultivated and can come in many differing colours, whereas native ones are mainly deep blue, but purple, pink and white varieties do exist in the wild. It readily escapes from gardens into the wild, but garden varieties generally have spurs that are straighter and not hooked over the top as much.

Despite being in the same family (Buttercup) as Monkshood and having a similarly convoluted flower which is also deep blue in colour, Columbine does not possess the aconitine poisons of Monkshood. It does, however, possess other poisons, cyanogenic glycosides being some. It also contains the glycosidic flavone IsoCytisoside which exhibits antimicrobial activity. Aquilegine is also a component.

The seeds and roots are especially poisonous, containing several cardiogenic toxins, which can cause heart palpitations and severe gastroenteritis if consumed. Four novel cyanogenic glycosides of the cycloartane type have been found in Columbine.


  Aquilegia vulgaris  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Ranunculaceae  

Distribution
 family8Buttercup family8Ranunculaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Aquilegia
Aquilegia
(Columbines)

COLUMBINE

Aquilegia vulgaris

Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]

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