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Aquilegia vulgaris plena - Double Flowered European Columbine

Double Flowered European Columbine

Common Name: Double-flowered European Columbine[1]

Scientific Name: Aquilegia vulgaris plena

Both single and double Columbine forms were grown in America before 1700, and it is likely that Jefferson had both types since he included "Columbines" in an undated list of cultivated flowers.[2] European columbines have been grown in British gardens since at least the 14th century[3], and Gerard's 1597 description of the double variety still applies: "The flowers hereof be very double, that is to say, many of those little flowers (having the form of birds) are thrust one into the belly of another, some-times blew, often white and otherwhiles of mixt colours-€¦"[4]Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon listed "Double Columbines, of colours" in his 1804 broadsheet.

This variety is a hardy, spring-flowering perennial with showy, distinctly spurred, double blossoms ranging in color from deep purple and blue to pink and white.


  1. This article is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. Edwin M. Betts, Hazlehurst Bolton Perkins, and Peter J. Hatch, Thomas Jefferson's Flower Garden at Monticello, 3rd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986), 54. Denise Wiles Adams cites John Winthrop, Jr,'s 1631 citation as America's first. See Adams, Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc., 2004), 170.
  3. Alice M. Coates, Flowers and their Histories. (London: Black, 1968), 25. Coates goes on to describe its medicinal uses dating back to this time for jaundice, smallpox, and other diseases on pages 25-26.
  4. Ibid, 26.

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