Columbine Flowers Meaning And Symbolism

The columbine flower, commonly known as Aquilegia canadensis, is a plant that is part of the buttercup family, which is native throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The history, beauty, and meanings of columbine flowers have led to it being an extremely popular wildflower.

Columbine flowers mean and symbolize innocence and love. These flowers have strong religious meanings tied to the Holy Spirit. Columbine flowers also symbolize foolishness as the shape of the flower is similar to that that you are likely to find on a jester’s head.

Aquilegia is an eagle in Latin and represents the talon-like spurs of this flower’s petals. Throughout history, columbine flowers have symbolized many characteristics in different aspects of life, from art to literature and more.

What Do Columbine Flowers Symbolize And Mean?

These spur-like flowers usually have 5 to 7 petals and have a wide range of characteristics that they symbolize. These characteristics range from innocence to foolishness. Columbine flowers with five petals symbolize bad luck, especially when a suitor gives the flower to a woman as a gift or token of appreciation.

The five-petaled flower found in the wild signifies foolishness because it physically resembles the five-pronged cap often seen on the heads of jesters who entertain people and look foolish while doing so.

When it comes to the symbol of innocence, the columbine signifies this as the flowers fallen spur-like petals are likened to Virgin Mary’s shoes. Legend has it that wherever Mary walked, her shoes led to columbine flowers springing up in her wake, symbolizing how innocent she truly was.

Interestingly enough, the fallen petals of the columbine flowers also look like mini doves. The columbine flowers symbolize five doves flying in circle formation in Austria. Doves are a well-known symbolism of the Holy Spirit, further symbolized by the columbine flowers with seven petals.

The 7 petals represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, namely, understanding, courage, wisdom, knowledge, reverence, council, and piety. As columbine flowers have a deep religious meaning, they also symbolize the fear associated with doing something wrong in the eyes of God.

Columbine flowers also had a symbolic tie to dreams and visions. According to Celtic tradition, columbine flowers served as portals from the spiritual world to reality.

Columbine Flowers: Different Colors’ Symbolism And Meaning

Columbine flowers come in various colors depending on where they are located. For example, columbine flowers found in the Rocky Mountains, called the Rocky Mountain Columbine, are vibrant blue-petaled flowers. In Eastern and Central North America, they are red, which leads to one of its alternative common names, red columbine.

These flowers have been highly hybridized, meaning there is a wide range of colors, even shapes, with some flowers having multiples of flower petals. Therefore, various shades of the columbine flowers have different characteristics that they symbolize. Other colors you can expect to see in columbines are yellow, pink, white, purple, etc.

For example, the red flower symbolizes anxiety. In contrast, the color purple is the complete opposite as it symbolizes the determination and deep-seated need to persevere, and yellow symbolizes friendship and positive energy.

Although hybridization has led to more variety, many people still prefer the simple version of the columbine flowers. With the simple columbine flower version, you quickly see the curved petals that give it its genus name. Other names are granny’s nightcap or bonnet because the petals resemble little purple bonnets.

Although the columbine flower is beautiful, it is heartbreaking what it is associated with socially. Due to the columbine massacre in 1927 and the most recent Columbine High School shooting, the flower’s meaning and symbolism have changed for those that remember both horrific needless acts of violence.

This coincides with the flowers being used to honor veterans on Memorial Day in New England.

The Etymological Meaning Of Columbine Flowers.

As the name Columbine is derived from the Latin word Columba, columbine means love. In ancient times, the Greeks and Romans associated the flower with the goddess of love, Aphrodite. The association is proof that columbine flowers are widely known to symbolize deep romantic feelings.

As with many flowers, columbine flowers became a popular object of use in floriography. These flowers were used to symbolize the success of love. Therefore, columbine flowers were considered excellent gifts to bestow to someone you love and have a deep affection for.

What Did Columbine Flowers Mean In Art?

The columbine flower played a crucial role in the Renaissance, especially in art, as it symbolized Christianity. Columbine flowers were believed to depict the Holy Trinity because the leaves of columbine leaflets grew in groups of three. Furthermore, a trio of columbine flowers symbolized feelings such as faith and hope.

The Meaning Of Columbine Flowers In Literature.

The meaning of the flower isn’t quite so light-hearted as the popular meaning of columbine flowers relates to deserted love and cuckoldry. Columbine flowers had negative connotations in literature used in William Shakespeare’s plays.

Plays like Hamlet and Loves’ Labor Lost used columbine flowers to symbolize adultery and betrayal. The color of the columbine flowers used to symbolize those characteristics is believed to be blue.

Following Shakespeare, poets and writers like William Browne utilized columbine flowers in their literature, almost always symbolizing negative characteristics such as neglected love and ingratitude.

What Do Columbine Flower Tattoos Symbolize?

Although columbine flowers are generally not as popular as tattoos as other flower species, these flowers are mostly gotten as tattoos by Christians. As mentioned, the columbine flower has strong religious and cultural ties.

Therefore, columbine flowers as tattoos symbolize the Holy Spirit seven gifts. They are also known to symbolize happiness or a show of romance, especially when someone’s name is intricately included in the flower tattoo.


This drooping chandelier-like flower is still well-liked, although its social association leaves much to be desired. Different columbine colors represent different things. Columbine flowers are beautiful flowers that everyone should have in their gardens, especially the purple-colored flowers if you are looking for determination to continue persevering.