Aquilegia vulgaris (European Columbine)

Scientific Name

Aquilegia vulgaris L.

Common Names

Columbine, European Columbine, European Crowfoot, Common Columbine, Granny's Nightcap, Granny's Bonnet, Granny Bonnets, Capon's Feather


Aquilegia aggericola, Aquilegia collina, Aquilegia dumeticola, Aquilegia inversa, Aquilegia stellata, Aquilegia winterbottomiana

Scientific Classification

Family: Ranunculaceae
Subfamily: Isopyroideae
Tribe: Isopyreae
Subtribe: Isopyrinae
Genus: Aquilegia


Color: Blue (sometimes purple, pink, light red, and white)
Bloom Time: Summer


Aquilegia vulgaris is a herbaceous perennial plant with branched, thinly hairy stems. It grows up to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall. Leaves are pinnate, with the basal leaflets themselves trifoliate. Flowers are blue (sometimes purple, pink, light red, and white), up to 2 inches (5 cm) across, pendent or horizontal with hooked spurs, and appear in early summer.

Aquilegia vulgaris - European Columbine

How to Grow and Care

Columbine plants can handle full sun. It's the combination of heat and dry soil they don't like, and mulching will help alleviate that. They will self-sow, but new plants can be lost if the summer gets too hot. Also, plants tend to be short-lived, fading out within three years. Hedge your bets and save some seed to sow in the fall or falling spring. Keep in mind that Columbine varieties readily cross-pollinate. If you plant more than one variety, be prepared to see new colors and combinations. If self-sowing becomes a nuisance, shear the plants back in mid-summer to prevent seed pods from forming.

You can start Columbine from seed or plant. Seeds can be direct sown throughout spring. The seeds need light to germinate, so simply press them on the soil surface and barely cover them with soil. Since Columbine is a perennial, it will take two years from planting the seed for them to bloom. See more at How to Grow and Care for Columbine.


Native to Europe.


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