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 : Monk's-hood 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 more straight and not hooked over the top as much.
Cultivated hybrid varieties of Columbine grown in gardens are very fertile and can escape into the wild where they also cross-breed with our native variety Aquilegia vulgaris. Such successive cross breeding can eventually result in the product being genetically indistinguishable from our native variety, just like the way Spanish Blubell (Hyacinthoides × massartiana) can cross-breed with our native English Bluebell and the hybrids continually cross-breed amongst themselves and English Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) until eventually the product is identical in all respects to English Bluebell. Indeed; it IS an English Bluebell, but one which is not 'native'.
A GLYCOSIDIC FLAVONE
Despite being in the same family (Buttercup) as Monk's-hood and having a similarly convoluted flower which is also deep blue in colour, Columbine does not possess the aconitine poisons of Monk's-hood. It does, however, possess other poisons, cyanogenic glycosides being some. It also contains the glycosidic flavone
IsoCytisoside which exhibits antimicrobial activity.
Aquilegine is also said to be a component, but your Author can find no reference to a secondary metabolite by this name. The toxins are most concentrated in the roots and seeds and can be fatal, affecting the heart; these toxins will probably be the glycosides of
Arctogenin derivatives called
Aquilegioside J and
Aquilegioside C, which are all
Four novel Cyanogenic Glycosides have also been reportedly found in Columbine.