The generic name of Aquilegia is derived from the Latin aquila (an eagle), the spurs of the flowers being considered to resemble an eagle's talons. The popular name, Columbine, is from the Latin columba (a dove or pigeon), from the idea that the flowers resemble a flight of these birds. A still older name, Culverwort, has the same reference, wort being the Saxon word for a plant and culfre meaning a pigeon.
It was one of the badges of the House of Lancaster and also of the family of Derby. The flower is referred to in Hamlet and in one of Ben Jonson's poems:
'Bring cornflag, tulip and Adonis flower,
Fair Oxeye, goldylocks and columbine.'
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Astringent. It has been employed on the continent, but according to Linnaeus, with very unsatisfactory results, children having sometimes been poisoned by it when given in too large doses. It is no longer used.
Culpepper tells us:
These ghostly beauties are back in abundance, having self seeded like mad last year.
I found the reference above attributed to Mrs. Margaret (Maud) Grieve from her book A Modern Herbal, and dated to the early 1900's. I love their gentle fragrance, she likens it to fresh hay.
I've always called them Columbines rather than the Latin name, but I am taken with the Saxon name, and since theirs' is the blood that runs in my veins, from now on I'll think of them as Culverwort.
KAI, did you plant your seeds, and have they grown?