Thursday, 13 June 2013

Flowers that never fail to please - dicentra spectabilis and aquiligia

My aquiligia and dicentra spectabilis.

Columbine is the common name for the genus of flowers called Aquiligia.
Aquiligia is the Latin word for eagle. The Roman eagle standard being the aquila, is carried by the aquilifer. The shape of the petals is said to resemble an eagle's claw and the word columbine comes from the Latin word for dove.

Over the centuries columbine has come to mean many things and has had some interesting connotations.

Freya, the Norse goddess of love and fertility, had the flower dedicated to her. In later centuries, in medieval times, columbine was linked to seduction, sexuality, love and infidelity. By the 17th century it would have been bad news for a lady to have been given columbine flowers as it was considered inappropriate due to its sexual connotations.

When associated with Christianity the theme changes as it was a symbol of the Virgin Mary and by The Victorian era it was connected to the beliefs of hope, faith, charity, justice, temperance, prudence and fortitude.

In paintings where the Holy Spirit or Jesus is depicted along with columbine, divinity is the association.

Dramatist William Shakespeare often used flowers to convey feelings or sentiments. In Hamlet, Ophelia gives flowers to different people- and the symbolism of these would have been recognised by a Shakespearean audience. She presents fennel and columbine to the King meaning flattery and foolishness. Columbine was also known then to be the 'emblem of deceived lovers'. Associations with that were ingratitude, faithlessness and male adultery.

Dicentra spectabilis - Bleeding Heart

Two spurs- worthy of notice. It really is a spectacular plant and one which cheers me up every late spring when the flowers brighten up the garden.

There is a wondeful little folklore story about dicentra spectabilis at this URL.


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