I think these wildflowers look like little dancing angels! What do you think?

These are two pics I snapped in Thor’s Woods in the bluffs of western Iowa, about a month ago — May 21st, 2018. The video I made about this particular columbine species is below, near the end of this post. 🙂

Columbines can be recognized by their spurred petals, like a colorful group of skinny plant-elbows reaching up backwards to form a little star — above a miniature petticoat skirt. 🙂 The scientific name of this group of sixty-plus wildflower species means “eagle” in Latin, but its common name means “dove” because some people thought they looked like a cluster of five little doves. Columbines are a favorite food source of another bird, however — hummingbirds!


I think columbine flowers are unusually cool because they have two very distinct “faces” — they look beautiful from the side or above, where you can see their recurved petals forming the “doves heads”… but they also look lovely and intriguing from the front — actually the underside — where each petal forms a tiny little cup at the base of delicate stamens and pistil.

Check out this collection of columbine photos. What variety and beauty!
[click any pic to enter a slideshow and look for the X to come back to this page]

It looks like there is only a single native species in my part of the world (USA) — Aquilegia canadensis — but there is also a light blue or lavender European native that has escaped cultivation and can sometimes be found in the wild here. There are also several cultivated varieties, as can be seen in the photos above.

More about Columbines:
Wikipedia   | EOL
USDA Plants Database
Fine Gardening: Columbines
Two “wild” species — MI Flora
A. canadensis 1
A. canadensis 2
A. canadensis 3
A. canadensis seeds



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