Herbs & Plants

Columbine(Aquilegia canadensis)

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Close-up of flowers
Image via Wikipedia


Botanical Name:Aquilegia canadensis
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Aquilegia
Species: A. canadensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales
Common Name: Canadian or Canada columbine, Eastern red columbine, Wild columbine
Habitat: Rocky woods.  Avaible  from Ontario as far south as Georga.

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 90cm in height (35inches).
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. . Each leaf is deeply lobed or divided.
Flowers: The flowers have 5 Regular Parts and are up to 5cm long (2 inches) and are up to 5cm wide (2 inches). They are red, orange and yellow. Blooms first appear in mid spring and continue into early summer. The flower hangs and the lower part is yellowish. The shape of the flower is very distinct.
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Grows easily in full sun to part shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils except heavy, poorly drained ones. Will grow in rocky, dry soil in shaded areas and on slopes.

Keep soils uniformly moist after bloom to prevent the foliage from dying back. If foliage deteriorates, cut plants to the ground. Fresh new foliage will emerge and look good all season.

Collect dried seed pods and sow them where you want more plants or simply let the plants self-sow.
Cultivation: The plant is easily propagated from seed and blooms the second year. It is relatively long lived in the garden. It grows well in shade, and in sun with proper moisture. The plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. The cultivar ‘Little Lanterns’ is half the height of the species.

Historical Lore: Young Native American men mixed the seeds with their smoking tobacco to give it a more pleasant aroma and this may have been considered a love charm. It was considered to possess a persuasive power and was so used in council meetings.

Constituents:The root contains aquilegunine, berberine, magnoflorine and other alkaloids.

Medical Properities: —As stated before the medical properties of the plant have never been investigated. They are no doubt analogous to the Aquilegia vulgaris of Europe, which has been used in cutaneous diseases and in jaundice. It is said to be a “diuretic, emmenagogue sudorific, antiscorbutic and aperitive. The seeds are acrid and are taken in vinous infusions for jaundice.”

Medical Uses: Preparations of this plant are used as an astringent, analgesic, and a diuretic. American Indians used crushed seeds to relieve headaches.

The root tea or chewed root and sometimes the leaves, has been used as a diuretic and to treat diarrhea and other stomach troubles.

Warning: The plant could be toxic if taken in large amounts especially to children.(as Aquilegia canadensis contains a cyanogenic glycoside, which releases poisonous hydrogen cyanide when the plant is damaged.)

Similar Species: European Columbine (A. vulgaris) which has shorter spurs on the flowers which may be blue, violet, white or pink has become naturalized in some areas.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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