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Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Aquilegia vulgaris

The seed is used as a parasiticide to rid the hair of lice[172]. The dried and crushed seed is used to kill external body parasites[53].

  • Medicinal Use

    Columbine was formerly employed in herbal medicine mainly for its antiscorbutic effect, but it has fallen out of favour and is little used nowadays[268].

    The leaves root and seed are astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, parasiticide[4, 7, 9, 19, 21]. Because of its toxic properties, this plant should not be taken internally without expert advice, though the root is sometimes used externally in poultices to treat ulcers and the commoner skin diseases[7, 268]. The plant can be harvested at any time from June to October[7]. Columbine has produced very unsatisfactory results and is not normally used medicinally[4].

    A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant[7]. It is used in the treatment of affections of the nervous system[7].

  • Edible Use

    Flowers – raw. Rich in nectar, they are sweet and delightful[172], they make a very attractive addition to mixed salads and can also be used as a thirst-quenching munch in the garden[K].

    The flowers are also used as a tea substitute[177].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The plant is poisonous though the toxins are destroyed by heat or by drying[7, 19]. Although this plant contains alkaloids, no cases of poisoning to humans or other mammals have been recorded[76].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be slow to germinate[200]. Stored seed can be sown in late winter in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring[200].
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil, preferring a moist but not wet soil and a sunny position[1]. Thrives in partial shade[1, 111]. Intolerant of heavy clay[200]. Plants are hardy to at least -25¡c[187]. Whilst the blue-flowered forms of this species have no scent, white flowered forms have a soft clove scent in order to attract pollinating insects[245]. Most species are short-lived, dying out after 2 – 3 years, though they usually produce seed prolifically[200]. This species usually self-sows freely in the garden, it is very apt to hybridize with other members of the genus and usually becomes the dominant partner in any hybridization[200]. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[54, 201]. It also attracts red spider mites to the garden, these can then move on to other crops such as apples, pears and strawberries[201]. It grows well with rhubarb[201].
Central and southern Europe, including Britain, south and east to N. Africa and Temperate China.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.