columbine kŏl´əmbīn [key], any plant of the genus Aquilegia, temperate-zone perennials of the family Ranunculaceae (buttercup family), popular both as wildflowers and as garden flowers. Columbines have delicate and attractive foliage and flower petals with long spurs that secrete nectar. The common Eastern red-and-yellow-flowered wild columbine (A. canadensis), frequenting rocky places, is also called rockbell; it is a favorite of hummingbirds, and Native Americans made an infusion of the seeds for headache and fever. The blue-and-white-flowered A. coerulea of the Rockies is the state flower of Colorado. The common European columbine (A. vulgaris), blue, white, or purple flowered, has been the source of many cultivars—some double and of various soft colors. Columbine is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ranunculales, family Ranunculaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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