NYU Garden Shop Plant of the Week
By Head Gardener, George Reis
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) at Founders Hall, 120 East 12th St.
New Amsterdam's Dutch settlers of the 17th Century very likely came across this week's plant, Wild Columbine, as it's a native of Manhattan island. While the common name Columbine is derived from Latin word columba meaning "dove," the genus name Aquilegia comes from the Latin word for eagle, aquila, due to the fact that the petals of this pendulous flower resemble an eagle's talons. There are lots of Columbines native to North America and Europe. Our local Columbine, also known as Canada Columbine, is a woodland perennial that also grows on ledges and cliffs from Quebec to Manitoba south to Texas and Florida, according to William Cullina's essential reference Wildflowers: A Guide to Growing and Propagating Native Flowers of North America. Columbines grow to 10-12 inches in height and flower in early spring; they tend to go dormant in summer. They are prolific seeders in the garden, so don't be surprised to see lots of little Columbine seedlings the year following your first planting. Columbines provide nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies and they provide the only food source for the larvae of the Colubmine Duskywing butterfly. So if you're interested in supporting beneficial local fauna in your garden like butterflies, Columbine is a good choice for the early spring garden. There are several cultivars of Columbine available, including a more compact form called "Little Lanterns."
Thanks this week go to Suzanne Pierre, a member of the NYU Garden Shop's student crew who took this week's plant picture.
Previous Plants of the Week:
April 25, 2011
Japanese Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata), or 'Kwanzan,' on the Bleecker Street side of Cole Sports Center, 181 Mercer Street.
April 19, 2011
Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana) in the Vanderbilt Hall Courtyard, at 40 Washington Square South.
April 12, 2011
Daffodil (Narcissus spp.) in the sidewalk median at 100 Bleecker Street.
April 5, 2011
Lenten Rose (Helleborus x hybridus) in the sidewalk median at 100 Bleecker Street.
March 29, 2011
Camellia 'April Remembered' (Camellia japonica 'April Remembered') at Coles Sports Center, 181 Mercer Street.
Mar 22, 2011
Coral Bark Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku') at Glucksman Ireland House
Mar 18, 2011
NYU Garden Shop Plant of the Week---Witch-hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) at #2 Washington Square Village Lobby Garden. (interior of Washington Square Village, W 3rd Street jst west of Mercer)
Mar 8, 2011
Crocus species mix on Bleecker Street side of NYU Coles Sports Center