Biota of the Blue Ridge: Wild Columbine

Columbine: Aquilegia candadensis --namesake for two species of bird

Columbine is a difficult flower to photograph due to its depth, the difficulty of correct rendition of its saturated colors and the fact that the individual flowers hang on slender threads and waggle in the least breeze.

The individual flowers are five petaled, each ending below in a flared “tail” and up top, and attenuated slender neck and “head” so that if you squint just right, you can see five doves (Latin: columba) facing each other.

Turn the flower the other way, and you have five talons coming together like a raptor’s claw, hence the genus name Aquilegia (Latin: aquila for eagle.)

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

Articles: 3013


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. One of our most delicate flowers, no doubt. Up north this blooms in June. I never understood the scientific name, Aquilega, sure makes sense though now that you point it out.

  2. I never knew about the doves, and now that you pointed it out, I can see them so clearly, at least in your photo.
    Those links at the bottom of each entry sure get me in trouble. I can’t get away from the computer! Either the info or the beautiful writing or the thoughtful musings keeps me traveling on. It used to be the photos that was my favorite part. Now it’s what you have to say.

  3. Well, Kathy, it just means that you are finding some balance in your blog-reading life, and that’s gotta be good. Right? Unless, of course, you have other things in life to do? Can it be?

    I’m enjoying the prior-post links w thumbnails too, finding that although sometimes I wince at what I’ve had to say, sometimes I learn something (again–the beauty of becoming this certain age is you can learn old stuff you used to know all over again!)