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This columbine (odamaki) is stouter than the delicate ones we have on our balcony. I’d never seen one this brightly colored before.  There are many native columbines although these large-bloomed ones are nursery cultivars.

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Below is Linda Inoki’s Japan Times column featuring the columbine.

In Bloom

Miyama Odamaki (Columbine)

This violet, rising mist:
It untangles my thoughts,
Tints the wild columbine,
Sets mountains adrift.

Columbine (or aquilegia) flowers have an unusual structure: the inner petals flare back to form long, curving spurs. There is a drop of nectar at the base of these spurs, which attracts long-tongued hawkmoths, or even hummingbirds, which pollinate the plant. The name aquilegia comes from the Latin for “eaglelike,” which refers to those talonlike petals; while the name columbine refers to a gentler bird, namely the dove, whose Latin name is columba. It is thought that the flower shape reminded people of doves gathered round a fountain. Columbines are members of the Ranunculaceae, or buttercup, family of plants, which includes anemones and clematis. The flowers usually have attractive color combinations, such as the striking red and yellow of the wild species from North America. The type pictured above is the Miyama odamaki (Aquilegia flavellata var. pumila), which grows in Japan’s mountain meadows. It is only about 10-25 cm tall, with purplish-blue petals that fade to white in the center. As the buds open, their tangled spurs unwind. This alpine species blooms from June to August, although you can see tall European columbines flowering in city gardens as early as spring.

The Japan Times: June 17, 2004



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