The Columbine

Editor’s Note: The theme for the Garden Club of Denver’s Annual June Flower Show is “Language of Flowers.” To prepare for the show, each month eNews will feature a different flower. This month’s flower is Columbine, presented by Caroline Rassenfoss from the Conservation Committee.

The columbine – scientific name: Aquilegia, Family: Ranunculaceae.

“Columbine” is one of the flower’s common names; the other is “Granny’s Bonnet.” The genus Aquilegia consists of about 60-70 perennial plants that are found in meadows, woodlands, and at higher altitudes throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The flower is known for its spurred petals.

The blue columbine became Colorado’s state flower as a result of a Colorado State General Assembly Act passed in April 1899. In 1925, the general assembly took additional action to protect the plant by prohibiting digging columbine plants on Colorado’s public lands.

Why was the white and blue Rocky Mountain columbine designated Colorado’s state flower? The blue color is a symbol of the sky, the white represents snow, and the yellow center symbolizes Colorado’s gold mining history. You can also find columbines growing all over the state.

The common name “columbine” traces back to the Latin word “columba,” which means “dove,” the bird many believe the columbine resembles. The columbine flower shape is well-suited to many nectar feeders such as hummingbirds and hawk moths.

Columbine flowers have a rich history in herbal use. Native Americans were said to have used infusions of the plant for a variety of diseases ranging from heart problems to fever and even to help the pain of poison ivy.