Common Columbine ( Aquilegia vulgaris )
The Columbine or Common columbine ( Aquilegia vulgaris ), and forest-Columbine called, is a plant of the genus of columbines ( Aquilegia ) within the family of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). Aquilegia vulgaris is a collective species with several varieties. Numerous other aquileges from the flora of Europe are added to it. The common columbine was used in various forms in medicine during the Middle Ages and early modern timesused. Due to the symbolism attributed to it , it can also be found on numerous medieval panel paintings.
Origin of name
The origin of the name "Akelei" is interpreted differently. Most authors, including the dictionary of origin of the Duden, attribute the German term “Akelei” to the Latin word “ aquila ” = eagle, as the spur is similarly curved as the beak and claws of an eagle. Other authors such as Esther Gallwitz point out that the plant name was first passed down by Hildegard von Bingen . This uses the old high German name "aglaia" or "agleya". A derivation of this word from the Indo-European "ak", which means "pointed" or "sharp", is possible. Allegedly it was Albertus Magnus who first created the relation between the word “ aquila ”.
Other languages allude to the honey leaf's resemblance to a pigeon. In the English-speaking world, for example, the columbine is called "Columbine Flower". Some German folk names allude to the similarity of the five petals to five birds sitting in a circle: Depending on the region, the flower is also called "Taubenblume", "Tauberln" or "Fünf Vögerl together".
Other names are "Elfenhandschuh" and "Frauenhandschuh", as "Kapuzinerhütli" or "Pfaffenkäpple". The designation “Venus chariot” and the name “Schlotterhose”, which is common in Switzerland , allude to the love- promoting effects attributed to it.
The Common Columbine is a short-lived, perennial, herbaceous plant that reaches heights of between 30 and 60 centimeters, is about 45 cm wide and has a strong rhizome . In the middle of the loose leaf rosette grow long, richly branched stems , on whose flower branches the spurred, bell-shaped flowers sit.
The leaves of the Columbine are doubly threefold, with rounded, lobed, stalked leaflets notched on the lobes; bluish green on top, greyish green and hairy underneath. The basal leaves are long-stalked, the uppermost leaflets on the stem are sessile, elongated oval and with entire margins. Soon after the flowering period, the plant retreats onto the rhizome with withering leaves and stems.
The nodding flowers appear from May to June and have a diameter of three to five centimeters. They have five petal-like tepals , each 1.5 to 2.5 cm long and 1.0 to 1.5 cm wide. The five nectar leaves incline like a bell and have nectar glands at the bottom . The flowers are predominantly colored blue; Occasionally, however, white, red-violet or blue flowers with a white border also appear in the wild form. The blue color is due to the anthocyanidin delphinidin .
For each individual, free carpel the form of Hahnenfußgewächse typical follicles . While the flowers were directed downwards, the follicles stand upright; they contain the up to 2.5 mm long, shiny black seeds.
The varieties of the common columbine cultivated as garden plants are not only available in the dark blue of the wild form but also with white, pink, red and purple flowers. The variety 'Nivea', for example, has brilliant white flowers. There are also cultivated forms of the common Columbine, which are two-colored, and those with double flowers. The columbine varieties recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society include, for example, the cultivated form 'Nora Barlow', which has pompom-shaped, double and dusky pink and white colored flowers.
The columbines are only pollinated by insects with a long enough proboscis, such as bumblebee species . Such a proboscis is necessary to reach the nectar excreted at the bottom of the spurs of the honey leaves . The bumblebees are attracted by the color of the petals and the scent. The insects hold on to the edge of the petals with their forelegs and use their heads to penetrate the elongated spur.
The Columbine is one of those plants in which the stamens and carpels ripen at different times. The plants use this mechanism to ensure that the stigmas of the flower are pollinated by pollen from another plant. As a so-called pre-male plant ( proterandry ), the stamens ripen first in the Columbine . Therefore, while the flower is still in its pre-male stage, the abdomen of the bumblebees is dusted with pollen. If the flowers are older and therefore female, the then ripe stigmas absorb the pollen that the bumblebees bring with them from other columbine plants.
Short-nosed bumblebees occasionally bite the spur of the columbine from the outside and get the nectar without pollinating the flower. If the hole is there, bees will soon appear , who also take up the nectar as "nectar thieves" without pollination (see photo).
Spread of the seed
After fertilization , the upwardly directed follicles form, which sit on the elongated, elastic fruit stalks. During the ripening process of these follicles, which begins in July, the fruit walls dry out, and as a result of this drying process the follicles open jerkily along their longitudinal belly seam. The top seeds are thrown away. This mechanism is known as desiccation scatter. More typical, however, is that the seeds of the common columbine are scattered by wind or animals. The wind loosens the seeds from the opened fruits and carries them away with it. In animals, the follicles with their hairy surfaces get caught in the fur of the animal for a brief moment, only to jerk up again when they are detached from the animal's fur. This recoil causes the seeds to be thrown out of the follicle (so-called semachory ).
Distribution and subspecies
The common columbine is widespread in all of Western, Central and Southern Europe, in England originally only in the limestone areas of southern England, in Scandinavia up to around 66 ° N.B., in Denmark probably only originally on Bornholm , otherwise wild, also for Scandinavia it can only be assumed that it has become overgrown, but spontaneous in the eastern Baltic region, mostly overgrown in Russia, as well as the high mountains of the Maghreb countries of North Africa. In temperate Asia and China, the common columbine is being replaced by related species.
The main focus of their natural occurrence, at least in the Atlantic to Central European flora region, is almost entirely in the southern sub-provinces. Your European area diagnosis is given as (meridional) - submeridional - temperate - temperate oceanic in the cool to warm temperate zone of the western Holarctic.
In the Allgäu Alps, the Common Columbine in the Tyrolean part at the southern foot of the Gehrenspitze rises to an altitude of 1500 meters.
According to the Atlas Florae Europaeae, Aquilegia vulgaris has four subspecies:
- Aquilegia vulgaris subsp. vulgaris
- Aquilegia vulgaris subsp. dichroa (Freyn) TEDíaz
- Aquilegia vulgaris subsp. nevadensis (Boiss. & Reut.) TEDíaz
- Aquilegia vulgaris subsp. paui (font across) O.Bolòs & Vigo
In addition, in the Mediterranean area:
- Aquilegia vulgaris subsp. ballii (Litard. & Maire) Dobignard , occurs only in Morocco
- Aquilegia vulgaris subsp. cossoniana (Maire & Sennen) Dobignard , occurs only in Algeria and Morocco
- Aquilegia vulgaris subsp. hispanica (Will.) Heywood , occurs only in Spain and Portugal.
In addition, numerous varieties of the polymorphic species have been described. The closely related species of the European vulgaris complex include in particular the dark columbine ( Aquilegia nigricans ) with dark blue-violet flowers from Eastern and Southeastern Europe, as well as the black or black-violet columbine ( Aquilegia atrata ). The length of the stamens, which in both the black-violet and the dark columbine, clearly exceeds the lamina of the petals (6–8 mm), serves as a reliable distinguishing feature. In the common Columbine, the stamens are barely visible and therefore only protrude a maximum of 2 mm from the flower. The flower color is also a sure indicator, the petals of the dark and black-violet columbines are mauve to distinctly brown-violet, those of the common columbine are usually simply blue. The shape of the leaves can also be a sure sign of when there are no flowers. Only the common columbine has rounded to almost heart-shaped leaves, the leaves of the dark and black-violet columbines, on the other hand, are much more deeply split and slightly pointed at the end of the leaf. The black-violet columbine has brown-violet / brown-purple, rarely white flowers and is found in the Limestone Alps, the Alpine foothills and the Swabian Alb . Aquilegia barbaricina Arrigoni & Nardi from Sardinia and possibly also Aquilegia pancicii sword from eastern Serbia are mentioned among the European endemic columbines that belong to the subspecies of the common columbine .
The Common Columbine is attacked by the rust fungi Puccinia actaeae-agropyri , Puccinia recondita , Puccinia actaeae-elymi , Puccinia agrostidis and Puccinia scarlensis with spermogonia and aecidia . The powdery mildew Erisyphe aquilegia attacks the leaves.
The common columbine occurs scattered in herb and grass-rich , mostly light oak and beech mixed forests (Fagetalia or Quercetalia pubescenis societies; weak Querco-Fagetea class character), also in the edge area of hedges , on dry and semi- arid grassland as well as in The fringing area of meadows, as in Geranion sanguinei and rarely in Mesobromion , smooth oat meadows (Arrhenatheretalia) or in Thlaspietalia societies. The locations are on summer-warm, moderately dry to fresh, nutrient-rich and alkaline, often calcareous, mild-moderately sour-humus, loose, stony, sandy or pure loamy soils; it is a gauze soil plant . The sunnier the location, the fresher the soil should be.
Persistence and Threat
In some German federal states the columbine is considered to be endangered in its existence, in Brandenburg it is even considered to be extinct. Picking, digging up or owning wild columbines is generally prohibited, just as their locations or stocks should not be entered. All Akeleien are "specially protected" according to the Federal Nature Conservation Act ( Bundesartenschutzverordnung ). In 1985 it was named Flower of the Year in Germany as one of the first plants . Some species of the Aquilegia genus are also FFH species ( Aquilegia bertolonii : FFH II, Aquilegia kitaibelii FFH II, Aquilegia pyrenaica subsp. Cazorlensiss (priority) FFH II, Aquilegia alpina FFH IV (strict)).
In some landscapes the plants have spread again in recent times, which is partly attributed to the spread of seeds. Habitat losses occur when widely spaced hardwood stands are converted into pure coniferous wood crops or when poor meadows are afforested.
The common columbine can handle a single mowing very well. If, on the other hand, it is mowed more frequently or grazed more intensively at its locations, it no longer grows back.
Use as a garden plant
The Columbine has probably been an ornamental plant in European gardens since the late Middle Ages. Since herbaria were only created from the 17th century and the first botanical books were not written until the 16th century, a more precise date cannot be determined. Medieval art, however, provides one of the oldest references to the use of the columbine as an ornamental plant. On the "Paradiesgärtlein" (little paradise garden) created around 1410 by an unknown Upper Rhine master, which is now in the Frankfurt Museum Städel , a columbine can be seen alongside numerous other ornamental plants. Also Hieronymus Bock reported in 1539 in his "New Kreuterbuch" from a "Agleyblume" which is commonly grown:
“The Agley herb grows commonly in our lands in the gardens. But you can also find it in the worlds that are in the heights ... Vnd [he] this plant you find the dragen all white bells / quite a few nice brown / dz third and all common drage just bang the sky. "
Double varieties are first described in 1586, and in the Hortus Eystettensis in 1613 twelve cultivated forms of the common Columbine were named.
The easy-care columbine, which was already considered an old-fashioned flower around 1900, can still be found frequently in gardens today. It thrives particularly well in light to partially shaded areas in gardens with humus soil and is often combined with ferns and anemones .
As common as the common columbine, however, long-spurred columbine varieties are found in European gardens. These are not due to the common columbine. They are mostly hybrids of North American columbine species, which were increasingly introduced into Europe after 1800.
The Columbine in Medicine
The cyanogenic glycoside triglochinin was found in the leaves of Aquilegia species , although more detailed information is missing. The whole plants, including the seeds, are therefore suspected of being toxic. After sucking out about twelve flowers of the species Aquilegia chrysantha A. Gray, one person developed: weak limbs, after two hours cyanosis, drowsiness and miosis. After three hours the symptoms disappeared.
Hildegard von Bingen
In the Physica manuscripts from the 14th to 15th centuries attributed to Hildegard von Bingen , a medicinal plant with the name "Columbine" ("agleya") was first mentioned. From the point of view of the theory of humors , it was classified as "cold". As a remedy with cold quality, it should work against diseases with a heat character:
“" Agleya "is cold. A person in whom freischlich what is called selega begins to grow, eat raw «agleyam» and freischlich will disappear. And in whom orfimae begin to grow, often eat raw «agleyam» and orfimae perish. And if you throw out a lot of flecma, pickle «agleyam» with honey and eat it often. The flecma will decrease and that will purify it. But whoever has it, pound agleyam, strain its juice through a cloth, add wine to the juice and drink it often. He'll be better off. "
In the late Middle Ages, "Freischlich", "freisam" or "vreise" were names for diseases whose character is violent, terrifying and heated. The wild pansy was called «free krut». The addition of what is called “selega” gave the expression “freischlich” in the Agleya chapter of Hildegard's Physica an assignment to the term “attack” (stroke, epilepsy). In the Florentine Physica manuscript from the early 14th century, the term "orfimae" was replaced by the term "scrofulae" (skin tumors). In a drug compilation from the 14th / 15th centuries (“Alemannic Herb Book”) only the final sentence of the Columbine chapter from Hildegard's Physica was quoted: “Ancusa aglaÿ is good. Who has the pieuer the ſtoss the crut vnd drink the ſaff thick with a good win ſo he enjoys. "
15th century Alsatian manuscripts describe the effects of a distillate made from columbine :
“Ageley water is good for sports. Vnd for gold and for everyone. Vnd ageleien ſome is good for the omehtikeit on the heart. And spread poisonous things from the heart. And ſtercket and strengthens the heart and the stomach. "
Hieronymus Brunschwig took this information from Alsatian manuscripts into his Kleines Distillierbuch from 1500 and added the following recommendation: "Agleien waſſer ... iſt gůt do ein menſch nit mag zů ſtůl gon den es zů dem ſtůlgang."
Early botany history - fathers of botany - modern times
In 1479, Vitus Auslasser sketched the columbine so clearly in his herb book manuscript that the species could be determined with certainty . Erhard Reuwich made a detailed woodcut of the plant for the print of the Gart der Gesundheit published in Mainz in 1485 .
At the transition from the 15th to the 16th century, who sought botanist doctors to prove the columbine in the writings of antiquity. The monk Vitus Auslasser (1479), the author of the Gart der Gesundheit (1485) and the author of the Hortus sanitatis (1491) gave the plant the name "egilops" with reference to the Greco-Roman doctor Pedanios Dioscurides (1st century) . Hieronymus Bock interpreted it in 1539 in his New Kreuterbuch as "Great Centaurea" by Pedanios Dioscurides, but corrected himself in the revision of the book published in 1546 and now referred the Columbine to the "Small Centaurea" by Dioscurides. Leonhart Fuchs concluded in 1543:
"Agley or Ageley would not be different for this day from Latin then Aquilegia / still / hato vil and I know / found no name with the Greeks and ancient Latin."
In medical practice, the Columbine was ignored and it was not included in the official pharmacopoeia. It was only performed in encyclopedic works.
Today's use in medicine
Columbine is still used today in homeopathy , where the plant is used in folk medicine for menstrual cramps, nervousness, weakness and skin diseases. Otherwise the columbine is no longer used in modern herbal medicine.
The Columbine in superstition
In popular belief, a drink made from the Columbine is considered effective against the impotence caused by sorcery .
“Which breeding leg was sent by magic to the honest works / the drink from this root / and seed / he recovers. ... "
The Columbine in Art
The Columbine appears as a symbol on many medieval panel paintings. Esther Gallwitz, who has devoted an entire book to the plants depicted in the paintings of the Frankfurt Städel , writes:
- [The Columbine] is the "Gothic" plant. Their symbolism as well as numerical mysticism and geometry call for abstract representations. First there is the leaf, which is divided into three parts, on the flower shoots, then the basal leaf, which is three times divided into three, and thus results in an equilateral triangle in a circle from twenty-seven small round leaves. This tripartite division combines to form the symbol of the divine trinity .
The columbine appears very frequently in book illumination from the 14th century. The image of the Columbine often refers to the modesty and humility of Mary. On the Ghent altarpiece by the van Eyck brothers , it stands for the humility of Christ. The Middle High German plant name Ageleie was due to the similarity possibly related to the cabbalistic ligature AGLA, which was often attached to amulets and rings and corresponds to Psalm 88, 53 The Lord be praised for ever, Amen .
The depiction of the Columbine flower should be interpreted as humble praise and invocation of Christ, which also explains its frequent placement next to adoring donors and saints. As a reference to Christ's humility, the Columbine also appears in the following paintings:
- Hugo van der Goes , Fall of Man, Vienna , KHM
- Lucas Cranach the Elder J. , Allegory of Redemption, Weimar , Stadtkirche
- Unknown master, unicorn hunt, Erfurt , cathedral
- Hugo van der Goes , Portinari Altar, Uffizi
Not infrequently, the Columbine is also related to the humility of Mary. The plant symbol also points to the wonderful motherhood of Mary. The Columbine with its distant dove-shaped petals also symbolizes the Holy Spirit . In the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum , Cologne hangs a triptych with the Adoration of the Magi, on the middle panel of which a bouquet with seven columbine blossoms appears. The unknown medieval painter moved the blossoms close to the dove symbol on the left, the seven blossoms thus also symbolize the “seven gifts of the Holy Spirit” and refer to the “seven sorrows of Mary”. In doing so, they lead to the depiction of the crucifixion on the right wing of the triptych. As a reference to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven blooming columbines that stand on the Hugo van der Goes Portinari altar next to the baby Jesus are to be understood . According to Marianne Beuchert , the number seven also stands for the seven cardinal virtues of the spirit: wisdom , understanding , advice, strength, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11: 2).
According to Marianne Beuchert, it remains uncertain whether the three-leaf ornamentation of the Gothic church window is derived from the Akeleiblatt or the clover leaf.
Apparently inspired by the popular old Italian name “ Amor nascosto ” (= secret love), Italian painters in particular interpreted Columbine in a slightly different context. On the woman's portrait “ La Colombine ” by Francesco Melzi , which is now in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg , the columbine is a symbol of secret love and seduction. Melzi's picture shows a seductive, beautiful woman with a bared breast, holding a columbine with an open flower and two hanging buds in her hand. In the background of the picture an ivy-leaved toadflax ( Cymbalaria muralis ) grows along the wall. This toadflax is referred to in the Codex Rinio as umbilicus veneris , i.e. the navel of Venus. From the science of art, the picture is therefore interpreted as a representation of a secret love (" amor nascosto ").
The columbine has a similar meaning in the portrait of Margherita Gonzaga by Pisanello in the Louvre . Even Leonardo da Vinci painted the Columbine next to Bacchus , and not received, drawing, its copy in the library of Windsor Castle is preserved, it shows Columbine next Leda with her children.
Art after the 16th century has increasingly forgotten the medieval religious as well as the later sexual symbolism of the Columbine. The Columbine appears only rarely in later centuries and here mostly in secular still lifes.
The Columbine in the language of symbols
Even more clearly than with other plant symbols, the symbolic meanings of the Common Columbine are contradicting one another. On the one hand, the lowered, nodding flower head was interpreted as a sign of humility . It was seen as symbolizing the worries of the Virgin Mary , since the French name ancholie was seen as the shortening of melancholy . In the Renaissance the columbine was one of the burial plants. At the same time, the columbine symbolized sexual power , instability or the abandoned lover . Given the symbolism of the plant, it was considered improper to give a young woman in the 17th century a bouquet.
For the Common Columbine, the names Acaleye , Acculey ( Middle High German ), Achelei , Acherram (Middle High German), Ackelege (Middle High German), Ackelege , Ackelei , Ackeleyn , Wylt Acley ( Middle Low German ), Acleye (Middle Low German ) are or were, in some cases only regional ) Acquiley (middle high German), ageleia , Aglar , Aglei , Agleia , Agleya , Agleyblumen , Akelchen , Akeleye (middle Low German) Akeley ( Austria ), Dryakerskraut , woman glove , our dear women glove , bells ( Augsburg ), bluebells ( Silesia ) Glöcklein ( Thuringia ), Glöckli ( Switzerland ), Gotteshut , Hakelei ( Mecklenburg ), Jovisblumen , Klockenblom ( Altmark , Transylvania ), Klockjes ( East Frisia ), Laqueya (Middle Low German), Manzelesblumen (Switzerland near Weggis ), Phöse (Switzerland), Schlotterhose ( Switzerland), Schweizerhose (Switzerland) and Tyriackskraut common.
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- Usir. Hortus sanitatis 1491 ( picture link )
- Left: Usir. In: Hortus sanitatis , Strasbourg edition 1497. Right: Use of the same printing block for the Agley chapter in the Small Distilling Book , Strasbourg 1500 ( picture link )
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- Hieronymus Bock. New Kreuterbuch . Strasbourg 1546, chapter 42 (digitized version)
- Pedanios Dioscurides. De Medicinali Materia libri quinque. (1st century), Book III, Chapter 7 (In the translation by Julius Berendes . Enke, Stuttgart 1902, p. 267: Kleines Kentaurion (digitized) )
- Leonhart Fuchs. New Kreüterbuch. Basel 1543, chapter 35: Agley (digitized version ) )
- Nicolas Lémery . Complete material lexicon . Complete material lexicon. Initially drafted in French, but now after the third edition, which has been enlarged by a large [...] edition, translated into high German / By Christoph Friedrich Richtern , [...]. Leipzig: Johann Friedrich Braun, 1721, Sp. 78–79 (digitized version )
- Encyclopedic Dictionary of Medicinal Sciences . JW Boike, Berlin Volume 3 (1829), pp. 174-175: Aquilegia. (Digitized version)
- Hugo Schulz . Lectures on the effects and use of German medicinal plants. For doctors and students . 2nd edition, Georg Thieme, Leipzig 1929, p. 111
- Federal Gazette. Monograph of Commission D of June 16, 1987
- Pietro Andrea Mattioli and Georg Handsch (1529 - approx. 1578) (translators). New Kreüterbuch. Melantrich von Auentin and Valgriss, Prague 1563, p. 248r (digitized version )
- Similar in: Jacobus Theodorus (Tabernaemontanus) . Neuw Kreuterbuch . Nicolaus Basseus, Franckfurt am Mayn 1588, pp. 120-121: “Such a man has lost his strength / and has been made possible by magic or other witchcraft for conjugal works / the drink constantly from this root and the seed / he enjoys and competently against rightly. " (digitized version)
- Heinrich Marzell. Columbine . In: Hanns Bächtold-Stäubli, Eduard Hoffmann-Krayer (Hrsg.): Concise dictionary of German superstition. Volume 1, Col. 237. De Gruyter, Berlin 1927; Reprint: 1987
- Georg August Pritzel , Carl Jessen : The German folk names of plants. New contribution to the German linguistic treasure. Philipp Cohen, Hannover 1882, page 37, online.