In the Garden
Garden Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris)
*Also known as European columbine and granny’s bonnet
Wild Columbine (A. canadensis)
*Also known as culverwort and lion’s herb
A favored garden flower for centuries, there are now over seventy species of columbine. Drooping, bell-like flowers with distinctive backward-pointing spurs grow on long, branching stalks one to three feet tall. The flowers give way to seeds that look like clusters of small, upright peapods. The wild columbine has red and yellow flowers with long spurs; garden columbine has violet-blue flowers with short spurs. Columbine’s medium-green leaves are rounded and lobed.
Herbalists from ancient times through the Middle Ages used columbine for a range of ailments. In addition, young newly married couples were advised to use columbine for protection against witches.
This plant’s genus and common names come from Latin with aquila, meaning “eagle,” and columba, “dove.” 44 The flower spurs have been likened to an eagle’s talons, and groups of flowers are said to resemble a flight of doves. The Saxons called this plant culverwort from their word culfre, meaning “pigeon.” 45 The name lion’s herb comes from a story that young lions ate columbine to increase their strength.
Grown in a garden, columbine brings blessings to the home. Scattering leaves and flowers across the front door threshold combats jealousy. Carrying a dried flower bolsters courage and balances emotions. Columbine’s association with the eagle, dove, and pigeon makes it instrumental in working with bird magic. Also use it for ritual or magic work in which balance is important. Infuse seedpods in olive oil and then use the oil to prepare candles for spells to attract love.
Columbine is associated with the element water, and its astrological influence comes from Venus.