Plant Guide > Flowers > European Columbine flower

European Columbine flower

European Columbine or Common Garden Columbine

(Aquilegia vulgaris) Crowfoot family

Flowers - Showy, blue, purple, or white, 1 1/2 to 2 in. broad, or about as broad as long; spurs stout and strongly incurved. General characteristics of plant resembling wild columbine.

Preferred Habitat - Escaped from gardens to woods and fields in Eastern and Middle States. Native of Europe.

Flowering Season - May-July.

A heavier, less graceful flower than either the wild red and yellow columbine or the exquisite, long-spurred, blue and white species (A. coerulea) of the Rocky Mountain region; nevertheless this European immigrant, now making itself at home here, is a charming addition to our flora. How are insects to reach the well of nectar secreted in the tip of its incurved, hooked spur? Certain of the long-lipped bees, large bumble-bees, whose tongues have developed as rapidly as the flower, are able to drain it.

Humming-birds, partial to red flowers, fertilize the wild columbine, but let this one alone. Muller watched a female bumblebee making several vain attempts to sip this blue one. Soon the brilliant idea of biting a hole through each spur flashed through her little brain, and the first experiment proving delightfully successful, she proceeded to bite holes through other flowers without first trying to suck them. Apparently she satisfied her feminine conscience with the reflection that the flower which made dining so difficult for its benefactors deserved no better treatment.