Aquilegia – Promiscuous Cross Pollination

Some of the flowers in my garden aren’t all that picky about their “pollen” partners. They will mate with just about anything in their genus, apparently.


The Aquilegia (Columbine) is one such example of plants that are prolific breeders. The Aquilegia vulgaris is quite common in gardens in many parts of the world. They come in many colors, and each new plant that pops up in my yard has the potential to be a color I’ve not seen before.This one is a pretty pale pink and off white.


This is one of the darker Columbines – shades of purpley burgundy and mauve.

11-columbine3This is an Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Nora Barlow’ – or a close sibling to one, anyhow. The flower petals are quite different from the garden variety Columbine, and the ‘Nora Barlow’ is usually a pinky color.

11-columbine2But now and then a ‘Nora Barlow’ crosses with the garden variety of vulgaris and all of a sudden I have a multi-petal flower in purple! (And in this photo, a big daddy long legs spider too!)

Of course, it is not the flowers fault that they are so promiscuous. The real culprits here are the bees. In the plant world, sex is a Ménage à trois.