Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Western Columbine
Aquilegia formosa
Ranunculaceae

The seed is used to rid the hair of lice[172, 257]. The whole plant is boiled up and used as a hair wash[213, 257].

The seeds are aromatic. They can be crushed and rubbed on the body as a perfume or placed in a sachet and stored with clothes to impart a nice smell[257].

  • Medicinal Use

    Western columbine was quite frequently employed by a number of native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints[257]. It is little used in modern herbalism.

    Antispasmodic, diaphoretic, parasiticide, resolvent, salve[172].

    A decoction of the root is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and stomach aches[257].

    A decoction of the roots and leaves is used in the treatment of VD, dizziness and biliousness[257].

    The mashed fresh roots can be rubbed briskly on aching rheumatic joints[257]. A poultice of chewed roots or leaves is applied to bee stings, sores etc[257].

    A decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of sore throats, coughs and colds[257].

    The seeds can be chewed as a remedy for stomach aches[257].

  • Edible Use

    Flowers – raw. Rich in nectar, they are sweet and delightful[172, 213], they make a very attractive addition to mixed salads and can also be used as a thirst-quenching munch in the garden[K]. Children enjoy sucking out the sweet nectar from the base of the flowers[257].

    Early spring greens cooked and eaten as a vegetable[257]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

    Root – cooked. Used by the N. American Indians as a famine food[213]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

  • Cautionary Notes

    Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, it belongs to a family that contains a number of mildly toxic species. It is therefore wise to exercise some caution. The flowers are probably perfectly safe to eat.

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 sheltered sunny position[1] or partial shade[187]. Intolerant of heavy clay[200]. A very ornamental plant, it is hardy to about -15¡c[187]. A short-lived species, often dying out after 2 – 3 years, though it usually produces seed prolifically[200, 233]. However, they are very apt to hybridize with other members of the genus and so it becomes difficult to keep a species true to type if more than one is grown in the garden[200]. This species is closely related to A. canadensis[200] and A. flavescens[60]. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[54].
Western N. America – Alaska to California, east to W. Montana and Utah.

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.