Aquilegia vulgaris (Vervaeneana Group)
Common Name: columbine 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Red, pink, white, blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils except heavy, poorly drained ones. Prefers organically rich, moist soils with light to moderate shade. Remove flowering stems after bloom to encourage additional bloom. Keep soils uniformly moist after bloom to prolong attractive foliage appearance. When foliage depreciates, plants may be cut to the ground. Plants may be easily grown from seed, will self seed in the garden and will naturalize in the garden over time. It should be noted, however, that seed collected from garden plants may not come true because different varieties of columbine may cross-pollinate in the garden producing seed that is at variance with either or both parents.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Aquilegia vulgaris knows as columbine (also commonly called European crowfoot and granny's bonnet) is native to Europe. It has escaped gardens and naturalized in parts of eastern North America. It is a bushy, clump-forming perennial that typically grows in a mound of thin, branching, leafy stems to 1.5-3' tall. It is noted for its spring bloom (April-May in St. Louis) of blue to violet flowers with spreading sepals and short-hooked spurs. Biternate, medium green, basal leaves are glabrous above and glaucous beneath. Upper leaves are divided into lobed leaflets that are usually three-lobed at the tips. Many different cultivars are available in commerce, featuring flowers that are single or double and short-spurred or spurless, in a variety of colors ranging from blue to violet to white to pink to red.

Genus name comes from the Latin word for eagle in reference to the flower’s five spurs which purportedly resemble an eagle’s talon.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word meaning common.

Columbine comes from the Latin word columba meaning dove-like. Common name of granny's bonnet is in reference to the spreading bonnet-like appearance of the flower petals.

Vervaeneana Group is noted for its striking variegated foliage which is green marbled with yellow or consists entirely of various marbled shades of yellow and cream. It is a bushy, clump-forming perennial that typically grows 10-15" tall and features nodding, short-spurred (incurved), primarily two-tone flowers in a mixture of colors including red, pink, white and blue. Blooms in spring. Triternate, almost fern-like foliage shape (but not marbled color) is somewhat suggestive of meadow rue (Thalictrum). Aquilegia comes from the Latin word for eagle in reference to the flower's five spurs which purportedly resemble an eagle's talon. This variegated-leaved columbine is considered to be part of the Aquilegia vulgaris Vervaeneana Group. This strain was developed by Mervyn Feesey whose U.K. home in Barnstaple, North Devon is named "Woodside". Plants are sold under a variety of cultivar names including 'Woodside', 'Woodside Variegated' and 'Woodside Strain' or in color specific names such as 'Woodside Red' and 'Woodside Blue'.


Susceptible to leaf miner. Aphids are a lesser problem. Foliage usually declines by mid-summer at which point it should be cut to the ground.


Borders, rock gardens, cottage gardens, open shade gardens, woodland gardens or naturalized areas. Also a good selection for a hummingbird garden. Continue to water plants after bloom to enjoy the ground cover effect of the foliage.

Has attractive variegated foliage.