Columbines as love charms?

This year, I have Columbines springing up everywhere. The one pictured here is one of my favourites. I love its intense colour. What amazes me is that this is the first year when leafminers have not ravaged the Columbine leaves.

When these pretty flowers are in bloom, I always think of the Song of the Columbine Fairy by Cicely Barker. I love her book, The Complete Book of Flower Fairies.

Who shall the fairy be
For the letter C?
There’s candytuft, and cornflower blue,
Campanula and Crocus too,
Chrysanthemum so bold and fine,
And pretty dancing Columbine.
Yes, Columbine! The choice is she;
And with her, see,
An elfin piper, piping sweet,
A little tune for those light feet
That dance among the leaves and flowers
In someone’s garden.
(Is it ours?)


What I just learned from reading at www.rook.org
is that Columbines have been in cultivation both in Europe and in North America since the 1600s. According to this website:

Native Americans used infusions from different parts of the plant for a variety of ailments from heart trouble to fever and even as a wash for poison-ivy. When pulverized, the seeds, a commodity of intertribal commerce, were rubbed on the hands by men as a love charm and also used in some tribes as a man’s perfume.

Columbine seeds as love charms. I wonder if they work ….

13 thoughts on “Columbines as love charms?

  1. Kylee says:

    Columbines are a favorite of both my husband’s and mine. That deep blue one you have is fabulous!I’ve not heard of these fairy books, but I’ll have to check them out.

  2. Alyssa says:

    Kate – How very interesting. I’m going to save some of my columbine seeds, crush them and see how they smell. If they were a man’s perfume I would figure it’s a rather earthy smell. The poem is so sweet and I can just imagine the little people dancing amoung the columbines in my back garden. The photo is so pretty too. They are such an enjoyable flower to start out the blooming season.Have a good day, Alyssa

  3. Andrea's Garden says:

    Kate, that blue is wonderful, my favorite color. Thanks for stopping by my little blog. I’ve found an article on the internet where they have written that Columbines are also called “Feenblumen” over here in Europe. I did not know that. It means “Fairy Flowers”. It is interesting to read here that you have found the same. I should have tons of them next year. I see a lot of starters coming up. I have learned that they really like to mingle and that using seeds from one may not bring out the colors of the mother plant. However, the surpise will be just as wonderful then. 🙂

  4. Pam says:

    I have one that color, I love it and it’s flourishing with minimal care.Just keeps spreading and impressing me.

  5. Layanee says:

    The columbines are particularly beautiful this year but mine have not escaped the leaf miner as yours seem to have done. I can see why the fairies love them!

  6. Mary says:

    Those are interesting facts about Columbines! I’d love to smell the seeds.I’m partial to blue or purple flowers so this post just brightened my day!

  7. Yolanda Elizabet says:

    Hm, never smelled my columbine seeds before but now I’ll have to try it of course. ;-)Lovely columbine you have Kate, wonderful colour. Columbines are such wonderful plants and so easy to grow.

  8. Salix Tree says:

    I love Cicely Mary Barker’s faeries and poetry! Such beautiful drawings she did!That columbine is an amazing blue color!

  9. Christa says:

    Lovely poem. And that blue… so intense! Blue flowers are my favorite for the garden. How lucky you are to have these. Do they do best in a little bit of shade? I have not tried growing columbine because I don’t know if they can take full sun.

  10. Gardenista says:

    I’m tempted to find and buy some of these books for myself! I’d never heard of the leaf miners, but I’m hoping it can stay that way for my columbines.

  11. Kate says:

    Kylee – These books are wonderful reads. You’ll love the illustrations. Alyssa – Please let me know what the seeds smell like crushed. I love these poems – all about flowers. Andrea – I didn’t know Columbines were known as Fairy Flowers … one can certainly see how they got this name. Every year, it seems as if different-coloured Columbines appear because they adore inter-mingling.Pam – Columbines are incredibly easy plants to grow as long as you do not have leafminers. They make white tunnels in the leaves and it isn’t very pretty…Layanee – I wonder why this year we are free of leafminers. By now, most of my Columbines are covered with the above-mentioned white tunnels in the leaves. Last year, they got decimated by cutworms almost overnight. At least leafminers don’t cause the plants to die. After the cutworm feeding fest, the plants died right down and did not reappear this spring. Herbs & me – Where the dark blue Columbine currently resides there once lived a yellow one … that is the colour of the original Columbine I planted in this bed. Mary – I’m glad that the Columbines brightened your day. Blue and purple flowers do that for me too!Yolanda Elizabet – Now you’ll have to let me know what the crushed seeds are like! We can all try and see what the results are like. Columbines are truly wonderful and easy plants … they are so cheerful too. Salix Tree – Cicely Barker’s illustrations and poems are among my favourites. There is something so distinctive about her work. Christa – I’ve grown Columbines in sunny places and they’ve done well. They seem to like slightly-shaded locations best, at least here. Blue flowers are my favourites too … today I bought a blue and black Salvia. It’ll be an annual here, but I couldn’t resist the colour. Gardenista – Good that you haven’t heard of leafminers … they leave white tunnel marks on Columbine leaves. Maybe they can’t survive in La Ronge. You would be lucky for that!

  12. Kate says:

    I really love Columbine, and am thoroughly taken by that color! I have never seen it around here, and believe me, I scan those plants and seed packets like crazy looking for a new splash of color for my yard.I have the leafminer issue too, not too bad but enough.Any chance you would sell me some of their seed heads at any point??

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