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Double Flowered European Columbine

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.

See Also

Further Sources

Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Double Flowered European Columbine.
Growth Type: 
Purple, Blue, Pink, White
Hardiness Zones: 
Zone 4, Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
Location at Monticello: 
East and West Lawn Beds
Planting Conditions: 
Partial Shade
Blooming History: 
April 15, 2002 to June 14, 2002April 23, 2003 to May 30, 2003May 1, 2004 to June 8, 2004May 10, 2005 to June 10, 2005April 28, 2006 to June 1, 2006April 30, 2007 to June 25, 2007May 2, 2008 to June 6, 2008May 6, 2009 to July 4, 2009April 23, 2010 to June 21, 2010April 28, 2011 to July 7, 2011April 6, 2012 to June 15, 2012May 1, 2014 to June 5, 2014May 8, 2015 to June 23, 2015April 26, 2017 to June 23, 2017May 28, 2018 to June 28, 2018May 2, 2019 to May 31, 2019


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