The columbine, or Aquilegia canaensis, is part of the buttercup family and considered to be one of the most popular wildflowers for its beauty, history and various meanings. When found in the wild in the Rocky Mountains, the columbine flower is blue-petaled, while in eastern North America it is red; various colors are grown commercially. Five- or seven-petaled with spur-like flowers, the columbine symbolizes characteristics that range from foolishness to innocence.
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According to the website AngelFire, giving a woman a columbine flower is considered bad luck, as they are a symbol of foolishness. Known to have five petals in the wild, the columbine flower was said to relate to foolishness because of its physical resemblance to a jester's five-pronged cap.
Innocence and the Holy Spirit
The columbine flower is also symbol of innocence. According to the website AngelFire, the fallen spurs of the columbine flower resemble the Virgin Mary's shoes, which were worn on her visits to see Elizabeth. According to legend, Mary's shoes caused the columbine flower to spring up beneath her, symbolizing her innocence. The fallen petals also resembled tiny doves, which are a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and the seven petals of the cultivated columbine flower represent the Holy Spirit's seven gifts.
Deceit and Desertion
When combined with day lily, broken straw, witch hazel and a daisy, the columbine flower is said to represent a person's folly and coquetry breaking the spell of their attraction, according to the website FAQS.org. The website, Types of Flowers Guide, notes that the most popular meaning of the columbine flower is its relation to cuckoldry and deserted love.
Color and Latin Meanings
According to the website, VictorianBazaar, a red columbine flower symbolizes anxiousness, while the purple columbine is associated with a resolve to win. The columbine flower was derived from the Latin term columba, or dove, and etymologically it can mean “dove-” or “pigeon-like,” according to the website Podictionary.
The columbine flower is often associated with the school shootings at Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999. Other connotations include the columbine massacre of 1927, in which machine guns were used in a miner's strike. (see ref 5).