Columbine - Aquilegia vulgaris Columbine - Aquilegia vulgaris

Herb: Columbine

Latin name: Aquilegia vulgaris

Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Medicinal use of Columbine:

Columbine was formerly employed in herbal medicine mainly for its antiscorbutic effect, but it has fallen out of favour and is little used nowadays. The leaves root and seed are astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, parasiticide. Because of its toxic properties, this plant should not be taken internally without expert advice, though the root is sometimes used externally in poultices to treat ulcers and the commoner skin diseases. The plant can be harvested at any time from June to October. Columbine has produced very unsatisfactory results and is not normally used medicinally. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used in the treatment of affections of the nervous system.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

to July


Habitat of the herb:

Moist shady positions, especially on calcareous soils or fenland peat.

Edible parts of Columbine:

Flowers - raw. Rich in nectar, they are sweet and delightful, they make a very attractive addition to mixed salads and can also be used as a thirst-quenching munch in the garden. The flowers are also used as a tea substitute.

Other uses of the herb:

The seed is used as a parasiticide to rid the hair of lice. The dried and crushed seed is used to kill external body parasites.

Propagation of 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:

Moist shady positions, especially on calcareous soils or fenland peat.

Known hazards of Aquilegia vulgaris:

The plant is poisonous though the toxins are destroyed by heat or by drying. Although this plant contains alkaloids, no cases of poisoning to humans or other mammals have been recorded.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.