Herb: Wild Columbine

Latin name: Aquilegia canadensis

Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Medicinal use of Wild Columbine:

Antispasmodic, diaphoretic, parasiticide, resolvent, salve. The root is astringent and diuretic. It is chewed or made into a weak tea for the treatment of diarrhoea and stomach aches. The tea is used in the treatment of uterine bleeding. The boiled plant was used as a hair wash. The seed is anodyne and febrifuge. An infusion is used in the treatment of headaches and fevers.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

May to


Habitat of the herb:

Rocky, wooded or open slopes and sometimes in swamps.

Edible parts of Wild Columbine:

Flowers - raw. Sweet and delightful. Rich in nectar, they make a very attractive addition to mixed salads and can also be used as a thirst-quenching munch in the garden. Root. These reports possibly refer to the root being chewed for its medicinal virtues. Caution is advised, see notes above on toxicity.

Other uses of the herb:

The seed is rubbed into the scalp to rid the hair of lice. The crushed seed is pleasantly aromatic and is used as a perfume. The fragrance persists for a long time.

Propagation of Wild Columbine:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be slow to germinate. Stored seed can be sown in late winter in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Rocky, wooded or open slopes and sometimes in swamps.

Known hazards of Aquilegia canadensis:

Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, it belongs to a family that contains a number of mildly toxic species. It is therefore wise to exercise some caution. The flowers are probably perfectly safe to eat.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.