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Wild columbine

Wild columbine – Aquilega canadensis

As a kid, columbine flowers were the wildflower you could pluck and nibble on the nectar bulb at the end to get a spark of sweet. It didn’t occur to me that the tiny pocket of nectar that attracted me was also the thing that attracted other creatures like long-tongued bees and butterflies and perhaps hummingbirds.

These flowers are not only delicate and beautiful, but they are a sign of the transition from spring to summer.

In late June, if you wait too long after the summer solstice to collect seeds, seed pods turn from green to brown, you could stand to lose hundreds of seeds . . . if you are interested in collecting seeds. Otherwise, you can be satisfied in knowing that the plants will re-seed themselves and/or feed a number of soil-dwelling seed feeders.

I am not aware of any chef who uses them, but the delicate pinkish reddish flowers might also be used as a kind of garnish for summer cakes or salads.