Aquilegia

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60-70, see text

Aquilegia (Columbine; from Latin columba "dove") is a genus of about 60-70 species[1] of perennial plants that are found in meadows, woodlands, and at higher altitudes throughout the Northern Hemisphere, known for the spurred petals of their flowers.

Contents

Etymology

The genus name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for eagle (aquila), because the shape of the flower petals are said to resemble an eagle's claw.

"Columbine" is derived from the Latin word for pigeon (columba).

Description

Fruit is a follicle.[2]

Relatives

Columbines are closely related to plants in the genera Actaea (baneberries) and Aconitum (wolfsbanes/monkshoods), which like Aquilegia produce cardiogenic toxins.[3]

Insects

They are used as food plants by some Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) caterpillars. These are mainly of noctuid moths – noted for feeding on many poisonous plants without harm – like Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae), Dot Moth (Melanchra persicariae) and Mouse Moth (Amphipyra tragopoginis). The Engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia), a geometer moth, also uses columbine as larval foodplant.

Cultivation

Several species are grown in gardens, including the European Columbine (A. vulgaris), a traditional garden flower in many parts of the world.[4] Numerous cultivars and hybrids have also been developed as well. They are easy to propagate from seed.

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