Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Columbine Surprise

I think Columbine (Aquilegia to us plant nerds) is arguably one of my favorite flowers.  So it's not to surprising that I let European Columbine (A. vulgaris) freely seed in my garden.  New plants come up every year.  I've got plain old single flowered Columbine in either bluish purple or cream colored petals and sepals.  I've also got a spurless, double flowered variety with  maroon petals.

For those of you who don't know, "single" flowers have just one compliment of petals and/or sepals.  If the species is supposed to have only five petals, a "single" flower would have just five petals.  A "double" flower would have ten or more petals (it doesn't have to be exactly ten to count as double).  A "semi-double" would have between 6 and 9 petals.

Most columbine are "spurred", meaning the petals have little backward protruding points.  The sepals are not spurred.  As I mentioned, I've got both spurred and unspurred varieties of A. vulgaris in my yard.

For the most part, my columbines seem to keep to themselves as far as producing next years offspring.  In other words, they seem to not pollinate each other in any obvious way.  All plants conform to the description I gave in the first paragraph.  Except until this year.  Yesterday I discovered that there had been some hanky-panky last year, resulting in a curious cross between a bluish-purple, single flowered, spurred individual and a maroon, double flowered, unspurred plant.  The result is a purple, double flowered, spurred plant.  Incredibly beautiful.  At least to me.  This isn't actually uncommon in this species, but being the big plant biology nerd, I'm excessively excited.  Here are photos, you can judge their beauty for yourself:

Maroon, spurless, double flowered parent.

Bluish-purple, spurred, single flowered parent.

Purple, spurred, double flowered offspring.

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