Northern Minnesota phenology report: May 2010

In late May at the cusp of summer the wild columbine blooms. Aquilegia canadensis, literally “water loving of Canada,” is its scientific name. Aquila is Latin for eagle and some say the five spurs at the top of the flower resemble the talons of a bird of prey. The common name columbine refers to the dove, columba in Latin. And to most youngsters, and many of us who were young once, it is known as honeysuckle. This is probably the result of its readily available nectaries eaten by many of us.

Despite the confusion over its name the flower remains one of the more easily identified plants of the eastern half of the continent. It is bright red above, sharply yellow below, has five long spurs at the top, and is borne to a height of nearly three feet upon stems whose scalloped leaflets are gathered in groups of three.

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