Dark Columbine (Aquilegia atrata) Info
A native of the mountain forests of Europe, this wonderfully Goth plant is both beautiful and tough. This Saturn perennial has been cultivated since the Middle Ages. In an Italian story of two princes who secretly loved each other, one was turned into a columbine, and so one of this plant's folknames is Secret Love, and it most probably has a good strong Mercury influence and is great for love magick. Some say its botanical name, aquilegia, refers to eagles (aquiline) because of the shape of the flower (although if you look at the flower from above, it looks like a ring of doves, which gives it its common name, columbine, from columba, dove). What these have in common is Air, so you could easily use this herb in Elemental magick. Others believe that the name aquilegia refers to the Roman name for a water tank (aqualegium) because of the dew that collects on the petals and the nectar that the flowers hold, which hints at Water proclivities. The dark columbine is a much more delicate, Faery-like flower than the commonly found cultivars of Aquilegia vulgaris. Fae or no, dark columbine is a great addition to the witch's garden.
The wiry stems grow 2ft/60cm above a rosette of crow's-foot leaves and carry up to 10 flowers per plant that bloom from May to July. Pick off dead flowers to keep flower production going, or leave them on to turn into seed, since this plant should create more plants from seed in snowy areas. It grows in the clearings of mountain forests in its native habitat, so it likes rich, humusy soil and is hardy to zone 4. Top
Wet and wring out a paper towel and fold the seeds up in it, carefully pressing the towel so that there is good contact with the seeds. Put in a baggie and keep at 64-72F/18-22C for 2-4 weeks (about room temperature in a winter house). Then keep cold (25-39F/-4-+4C) for 4-6 weeks (freezer--not a deep freeze). Then sow and put outside to germinate at 41-54F/5-12C. Some people like to use moist peat moss or moist sand instead of a paper towel. Or sow on Winter Solstice (see the Solstice Sowing page). Since snowmelt triggers germination in these seeds, they might be a good candidate for using the coldwater treatment described with belladonna, even though that is prescribed for seeds that come in berries. Once it germinates, pot up in rich soil in partial shade or light sun. General growing info Top
Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:
© 2004, 2014 Harold A. Roth. No reproduction of any part without permission.