Species of Aquilegia are polymorphic and difficult to define adequately. Some of the variability is because of introgressive hybridization. Even distantly related species of columbine are often freely interfertile, and many cases of natural hybridization and introgression are known from North America. In arid areas Aquilegia species tend to form small populations often completely isolated from one another - this leads to local fixation of genes and therefore increased variability in species such as Aquilegia. micrantha and Aquilegia. desertorum . In addition, populations with spurless petals are occasionally found in many species[
Aquilegia vulgaris Richardson
Aquilegia vulgaris brevistyla (Hook.) A.Gray
Aquilegia brevistyla is a herbaceous, perennial plant producing a cluster of basal leaves with one or more flowering stems that can grow 20 - 80cm tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and parasiticide. It is grown as an ornamental in gardens.
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.
Northern N. America - Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Colombia, Albera, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontaria; also in S. Dakota, Wyoming
Open woods, meadows, shores, and rock outcrops; at elevations from 800 - 3,500 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil, preferring a moist but not wet soil and a sunny position[
]. Intolerant of heavy clay[
Most species are short-lived, dying out after 2 - 3 years, though they usually produce seed prolifically[
]. 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[
Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[
A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[
Flowers - raw. Sweet and delightful[
], they make a very attractive addition to mixed salads and can also be used as a thirst-quenching munch in the garden[
The plant is antispasmodic, diaphoretic, parasiticide, resolvent and salve[
The seed is used as a parasiticide to rid the hair of lice[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be slow to germinate[
]. 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[