Wild Columbine

Aquilegia canadensis

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: flowers, roots.

Flowers - raw. Sweet and delightful. Rich in nectar, they make a very attractive addition to mixed salads and can also be used as a thirst-quenching munch in the garden. Root chewed for its medicinal virtues. Caution is advised.

Medicinal Uses

Antispasmodic, diaphoretic, parasiticide, resolvent, salve. The root is astringent and diuretic. It is chewed or made into a weak tea for the treatment of diarrhoea and stomach aches. The tea is used in the treatment of uterine bleeding. The boiled plant was used as a hair wash. The seed is anodyne and febrifuge. An infusion is used in the treatment of headaches and fevers. The root tea or chewed root and sometimes the leaves, has been used as a diuretic and to treat diarrhea and other stomach troubles. The root contains aquilegunine, berberine, magnoflorine and other alkaloids.
Preparations of this plant are used as an astringent, analgesic, and a diuretic. American Indians used crushed seeds to relieve headaches.

Warning: The plant could be toxic if taken in large amounts especially to children.


Other Uses

The seed is rubbed into the scalp to rid the hair of lice. The crushed seed is pleasantly aromatic and is used as a perfume. The fragrance persists for a long time.

Cultivation details

An easily grown and very tolerant plant, it succeeds in almost any garden soil exept heavy clay, and likes semi-shade. A very ornamental and cold-hardy plant, it tolerates temperatures down to about -25°c. A greedy plant inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes. Most species in this genus are short-lived, dying out after 2 - 3 years, though they usually produce seed prolifically. However, they are very apt to hybridize with other members of the genus and so it becomes difficult to keep a species true to type if more than one is grown in the garden.


Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be slow to germinate. Stored seed can be sown in late winter in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring.