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 vulgaris L.

Variable plant with flowers occurring in a range of colours in shades of blue and purple and also white.  Hybridises readily with other species.  To 60cm.  [RHSD, Hortus].  See also Aquilegia atropurpurea Willd.

Horticultural & Botanical History

Ancient garden plant of early medicinal value.  ‘Columbine.  Aquilegia.  The stalks grow about two foot high; the leaves are a bluish green, and the flowers a fine blue.  It grows wild in several places in England & flowers in May or June.  The leaves are accounted good for sore mouths and inflammations of the jaws and throat; for which they are used in gargarisms.  The seed is esteemed good to open obstructions of the liver and spleen; & to prevent and cure the jaundice.  Clusius commends the seed to be given in wine, to accelerate the birth, and to repeat it, if there be occasion.  Some use the same medicine to drive out the small pox and measles.’  Blackwell pl.409/1739.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [H.12/1843] as Aquilegia atropurpureum.  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.


See also Aquilegia atropurpurea Willd.

Published Feb 03, 2009 - 03:07 PM | Last updated Jul 29, 2010 - 05:51 PM

Depicted are the leaves and pendant, violet blue flowers with short spurs.  Blackwell pl.409, 1739.

Aquilegia vulgaris L. | Blackwell pl.409/1739 | BHL

Family Ranunculaceae
Region of origin

Europe including Britain

Common Name


Name in the Camden Park Record

Aquilegia atropurpureum 

Confidence level medium