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  Photos © Kim Hosen; suburban backyard, Woodbridge, VA; May 2015
Text by Alison O'Callaghan

Aquilegia canadensis
Buttercup family, Ranunculaceae

Columbine is an erect, branching, perennial plant native to woodland and rocky slopes in east North America. It succeeds in ordinary garden soil which must be moist but not wet, and it prefers light shade to partial sun.

Once established, it is an easy plant to maintain and is deer resistent. It will naturalize in shady rock gardens.

This beautiful plant grows up to two feet tall with lobed leaves that are grouped in threes. The flowers have five petals and hang like lanterns from a long stalk.

They bloom from late spring to early summer, and during this time this plant attracts a variety of pollinators such as hummingbirds, butterflies, bumble bees and hawk moths.

Columbine flowers are edible and can make an attractive addition to a mixed salad or a refreshing thirst quenching munch in the garden!

After blooming, each flower is replaced by five pod-shaped follicles which later split to release shiny, black seeds. When crushed, the seeds produce a pleasant aroma and were used by the Native Americans as a love charm.

Aquilegia Canadensis plants tend to cross-pollinate, hybridize, and self-seed freely.