Columbine Flower Meaning and Symbolism

A firm favorite of gardeners across the world, Columbine or Aquilegia is a hardy perennial plant which will treat anywhere within your garden to pops of vivid color.

Not only is it prized for its unusual shape and color, but also for its ability to grow in very low light conditions as well as full sunlight, making it perfect for woodland gardens, or areas which don’t get that much sun throughout the day.

But did you know that there’s also a lot of meaning attached to this striking flower?

Behind The Name: What does ‘Columbine’ Mean?

‘Columbine’ is derived from the Latin name for ‘dove’. You’ll see the resemblance if you turn the flower upside down, as the petals look like a group of five doves.

The scientific name, Aquilegia, comes from the Latin aquila, which means eagle. The inspiration for this comes from the shape of the petals, which resemble an eagle’s claw.

What Do Columbine Flowers Mean?

To many cultures, columbine flowers signify romance, and have often been associated with gods and goddesses of love, such as Aphrodite for the ancient Greeks, and Freya for the Vikings. 

To some, the unique petals of a columbine flower resemble shooting stars instead of birds, which changes the symbolism to match, where they signify achievement, hope for the future, and resilience.

To others, Columbine flowers look like the hat of a jester, instead signifying taking risks and still ending up with a good outcome, or less than rational decisions.

But the meaning also depends on the color of the columbine flower. As these striking blooms can also be  bicolored, they adopt both the meanings of the colors included in a single bloom.

Yellow Columbine Meaning

Yellow columbines represent hope, joy, well wishes, and prosperity.

Purple Columbine Symbolism

No matter the shade, purple columbines symbolize beauty, rarity, spirituality, and tranquility. 

White Columbine Significance

White columbines signify grace, spirituality, commitment, and innocence. 

Red Columbine Meaning

Red columbines mean romantic love, an all-consuming passion or desire, vitality, good luck, and trusting your instincts.

Pink Columbine Symbolism

Pink columbines represent non-romantic affection, well wishes, happiness, and grace.

What is the Cultural Significance Behind the Columbine Flower?

Columbines have been mentioned in numerous forms of literature over the centuries, and there is some agreement that columbines represent love which never had a chance to blossom, or love which has no accompanying faith.

For example, in Hamlet, a now mad Ophelia presents columbines and fennel to the king, which is a hidden insult. Fennel represented hardship, as it wilted quickly, and columbines represented infidelity and stupid decisions.

While this interpretation may seem like you should refrain from giving anyone columbines as a gift, it is the less-known meaning behind the columbine.

In the Victorian language of flowers, the columbine flower moved away from these negative associations to signify faith, and the determination to win, no matter what may happen in between. 

In Christianity, the columbine is a symbol of faith. It also symbolizes the seven gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of God. 

To the Celts, columbines had the power to transport you to different worlds as portals, as well as dreams.

What does a Columbine Flower Tattoo Mean?

Columbine flowers aren’t hugely common when it comes to tattoo subjects, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot of significance. 

Columbine flower tattoos represent faith, spirituality, a reminder of the strength you possess, or that someone else inspires within you. 

They can also embody good luck, optimism, and taking the occasional chance, believing that things will work out no matter what. 

The Best Time to Give Someone Columbine Flowers

Columbine flowers are perfect for any occasion, but there are several times when they are perfect. 

For example, if you want to convey to someone that they’re stronger than they know, maybe they’re going through a rough time, and you want to tell them that you have their back, giving them columbines is a great way to do it.

Columbines are also a good way to express your gratitude or faith in someone, and these striking flowers are also perfect for a birthday gift for those born in May.

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