Every year I promise myself not to fall in love with the beautiful Culverwart. She is so elusive, so delicate and often so blue. Oh sure, her cultured sisters show off in every other garden here in Boulder but they are not like the wild one. I tried not to succumb to her untamed splendor this season but in the end I couldn’t resist. Finally I went out like a crazed paparazzo to seek her company and to capture her fleeting image which I am compelled share here with my readers…
Wild Culverwort a.k.a. Colorado Columbine
Botanical: Aquilegia coerulea
The generic name of Aquilegia is derived from the Latin aquila (an eagle), the spurs of the flowers being considered to resemble an eagle’s talons. The popular name, Columbine, is from the Latin columba (a dove or pigeon), from the idea that the flowers resemble a flight of these birds. A still older name, Culverwort, has the same reference wort being the Saxon word for a plant and culfre meaning a pigeon.
The Columbine is a favourite old-fashioned garden-flower, being mentioned by Tusser (1580) among a list of flowers suitable ‘for windows and pots’, Parkinson, in 1629, speaks of the many varieties grown in gardens.
- It was one of the badges of the House of Lancaster and also of the family of Derby. The flower is referred to in Hamlet and in one of Ben Jonson’s poems:
- ‘Bring cornflag, tulip and Adonis flower,
- Fair Oxeye, goldylocks and columbine.’
These and other interesting facts about the Columbine can be found on http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/columb89.html