The Columbine Flower: It’s Meanings & Symbolism

Columbine Flowers

The columbine flower is a very interesting perennial wildflower with an intriguing history. This is a hardy perennial that is happy to bloom in part shade or in a woodland or mixed border garden. Some varieties thrive in full sun. Many columbines are on the smaller side and are delicate looking. But, if you happen to live in southwestern united states, try planting golden columbine which grows to 3 feet tall with each flower a rich yellow, including the stamens and a generous 3 inches across. It is listed as a. chrysantha at garden centers.

The symbolism and meaning of the columbine flower has been varied throughout history. A few meanings that have stood the test of time include foolishness, innocence, little doves, seven gifts of the holy spirit and protector against evil.

What Does the Columbine Flower Mean?

  • Not surprisingly, the columbine flower means different things to different cultures. The ancient Greeks and Romans attributed this plant to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Other meanings include:
  • the fool – the columbine flower is thought to resemble the hat of a court jester
  • Three columbine flowers in one composition symbolizes faith, hope and love
  • The Victorian meaning of columbine is: resolved to win

Etymological Meaning of the Columbine Flower

The root of the name columbine, columba is Latin and means dove. But the columbine’s true Latin name is Aquilegia which translates to mean eagle. It was so named because the spurs of this flower reminded some observers of the the talons of an eagle, and like the eagle the columbine has evolved to survive perfectly in it’s unique environment whether it be southwestern united states or the mountainsides of Colorado.

Symbolism of the Columbine Flower

Columbines have been mentioned or depicted in the Christian religion over many centuries. Christians believed that the columbine had the meaning of the 1seven gifts of the holy spirit and these included: wisdom, intellect, reverence or piety, strength, advise, knowledge and fear (fear of god or fear of doing wrong in the eyes of god).

The Celtics believed in the world of dreams and visions and that columbines were the portal to this world. Austrians believed the columbine symbolizes five doves in a circle. It’s funny what you can see in a flower.

Columbine Flowers

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Columbine Flower Color Meanings

Yellow means lightness, happiness, vivaciousness, vitality

Purple means penance

Red color meaning includes anxious or worried (victorian) – I disagree! The best pollinators are drawn to red flowers, so why would a red columbine mean anxiety?

Meaningful Botanical Characteristics of the Columbine Flower

The spurs of the columbine flowers which are the elongated petals that hang below the flower have evolved to their particular varied lengths to attract pollinators in the area where they grow. Some spurs are longer than others, some are fat and some are thin! 2This is attributed to the fact that early in the cell division development of the spurs – where the nectar is stored – the cells stop dividing and lengthen to accommodate certain pollinators. These include hummingbirds, moths, butterflies and bees. The genus of the columbine is ranunculaceae or the more commonly known buttercup.

The leaves of the columbine flower are fernlike in their habit of growth (somewhat like a Chinese pagoda) and look like modified three leaf clovers with loosely lobed leaves. There are so many things to like about this flower!

The Columbine Flower Interesting Facts

  • Colorado State Flower
  • Abundant through the northern hemisphere
  • At least sixty different species of columbine
  • Hummingbird attractant, large amounts of nectar in each flower
  • Colors include red, white, purple, blue, pink and yellow and many variations of these colors
  • Flowers are edible and are sweet, seeds and roots should not be eaten; they are highly toxic

Offer the Columbine Flower on These Occasions

  • To welcome spring
  • To give fortitude to see a project through
  • As a symbol of thanks to a friend or colleague for their unswerving support
  • As a birth flower, especially for any birthdays in May or early June

The Columbine Flower’s Message Is:

Wherever your journey takes you stay steadfast in your faith, love and friendships. Believe in things that are not yet seen.

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columbine flower

columbine flower