Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Aquilegia atropurpurea Willd.

Fully hardy short-lived perennial with purple flowers with greenish purple sepals in spring and early summer.  To 30cm.  [RHSD, Hortus].  See also Aquilegia vulgaris L.

Horticultural & Botanical History

Johnson’s Dictionary gives a date of introduction of A. viridiflora to Britain as 1780.  ‘A pretty, little, neat, hardy herbaceous plant, native of Siberia.  It flowers in the open border, in any common light soil, from April till June.  Our drawing was made in the garden of the Horticultural Society at Chiswick, where it had been raised from Siberian seeds communicated by Dr. Fischer.’  [BR f.922/1825].  

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [H.12/1843].  By 1846 Macarthur was probably growing improved garden forms or hybrids.  He placed an order with James Carter, Seedsman and Florist of High Holborn, for 6 varieties of Aquilegia seed on the 8th of April 1846 [MP A2933-1, p.128].  These were probably A. vulgaris, of which many colour forms were available by this time.


Hortus Second says of Aquilegia atropurpurea, ‘confused name; botanically applied to plants of A. buergeriana and A. viridiflora, but the material in the trade may be a colour form of A. vulgaris [L. which see].’  The last named is a European species, to 75cm, with nodding blue, purple and white flowers.  There are many garden forms.  To add to the confusion Curtis’s Botanical Magazine figures Aquilegia hybrida, synonym A. vulgaris speciosa, thought to be a hybrid of A. canadensis and A. vulgaris: ‘It appears to us, however, to be the same as the Siberian variety of the A. vulgaris in Hortus Kewensis, which is said to be permanent.’  The flower shown was bluish-purple with a white corolla and short spurs.

A less likely possibility is Aquilegia buergeriana Sieb. & Zucc., synonym Aquilegia atropurpureum Miq.  Japan.  Hairy, linear leaves composed of 3 leaflets, and flowering stems bearing 2-3 nodding, brown-purple to dull yellow flowers.  To 60cm.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Published Feb 03, 2009 - 02:57 PM | Last updated Mar 05, 2010 - 09:27 AM

The image shows purple, green tinged flowers with short spurs.  Botanical Register f.922, 1825.

Aquilegia atropurpurea Willd. | BR f.922/1825 | BHL

Family Ranunculaceae
Region of origin

Siberia to China



  • Aquilegia viridiflora Pall. var. atropurpurea K.C.Davis
  • Aquilegia viridiflora Pall.
Common Name


Name in the Camden Park Record

Aquilegia atropurpureum 

Confidence level medium