January 19, 2010

AQUILEGIA VULGARIS - an aphrodisiac

(Photograph : http://rosenblads.ax/)

Wisdom and strength, piety and fear;
a symbol of salvation,
the triumph of life over death;
an aphrodisiac.

(Photograph: Gettyimages.com)

English Name: COLUMBINE

Bloom Time: May - June

'Aquilegia', the term may be derived from the Latin aquila, the eagle, as the spurs of the flower resemble an eagle's hooked beak and talons. The shape of the nectar gland resemble a dove, hence the English name Columbine (Latin columba, 'dove').

The outline of the flower looks like a pentagon. While drawing an artist may just use the proportions of the 'golden section'. The flower inspired spiritual, mathematical and religious interpretations for artists and mystics of the Gothic era. Because of the pentagram concealed within it, the flower gained a reputation as a plant with powers to ward off evil.

Between 1430 -1580, the columbine appeared in many paintings as a sign of redemption and of triumph of life over death. In the Last Judgement, the aquilegia is shown as the steps that lead to heaven, a mediator between earthly and heavenly spheres.

Aquilegia was planted in the gardens of monastries and castles from twentieth century as a medicinal plant. The plant is a member of all-poisonous Ranunculus family and it should not be experimented with. The plant has been used to cure diarrhea, alleviate rheumatic pains and the dried crushed seeds kill lice very effectively.

Painting by Albercht Durer, 1503-1533
36cm X 29cm

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