Common Columbine

©Philip Precey

Columbine

Scientific name: Aquilegia vulgaris
The bonnet-shaped, violet-blue flowers of Columbine can be spotted in damp areas in woodlands and in fens. It is also an attractive and much-loved garden plant.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 1m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

May to June

About

Columbine is a tall plant of woodland rides, fens and damp places, and is also a favourite cottage-garden plant - various forms often escape into the countryside. Its nodding, bonnet-shaped, blue flowers appear in May and June and will self-seed in a garden to provide a colourful and wild border, great for nectar-loving bees.

How to identify

A tall, branching plant, Columbine can be recognised by its characteristic violet or blue (rarely white), chandelier-like flowers. Garden escapees come in many other colours and forms.

Distribution

Widespread, but never common.

Did you know?

Columbine is also sometimes called 'Granny's Nightcap' or 'Granny's Bonnet' because of its flowers' resemblance to little purple bonnets.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try planting native plants and trees to entice birds, mammals and invertebrates into your backyard? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.