Saturday, May 28, 2011

Curiously Columbine.... continued

While I was photographing the columbines the other day, I saw some very tall (2-1/2 to 3 foot) plants in a small garden we have behind the gazebo. The plants had several stalks of buds that were still tightly closed, but they were some of the darkest buds I've ever seen -- some were nearly black.

Today I checked and they were blooming. The royal blue ones in the background are the same variety that we have in some of the other beds. The darkest ones in the foreground are actually even darker than the photographs demonstrate.... they're an incredible deep, dark aubergine.

So, if you can stand a few more pictures of columbines, here are some more of the tall royal blue plants and a deep, dark, nearly black purple.

The royal blue columbines are tall,  but not nearly as tall as the darkest ones which, in this photograph, are on the right and to the rear.


  1. Hello!
    In your post some time ago about May Wine I would like to add: the woodruff contains cumarin, which is poisonous. I have found German recipes on the web, and they say that you should not let the cutting end of the stem touch the wine. I don´t know how careful one should be, but better be on the safe side!

    Have a nice day!

  2. Very nice columbines you have! i especially like the mahogany coloured!


  3. Ruben, your point is well taken and I will edit the post to add a cautionary note.

    Actually, sweet woodruff is not poisonous and in small amounts it is perfectly safe for most people to consume. It does contain coumarin derivatives in very small amounts, so there is a theoretical risk of bleeding if consumed in large amounts, especially by people who are also taking medications or other herbs and supplements that also have the potential to increase coagulation time.

    Coumarin as a pure chemical was used quite liberally and indiscriminately for many years as a flavor enhancer in many foods, cigarette, pipe, and chewing tobacco, and in alcoholic beverages. The FDA has restricted the use of the chemical coumarin as a food additive but does specifically allow the use of natural sources of coumarin such as sweet woodruff as a flavor enhancer in alcoholic beverages.

    Concerns such as this are not unique to sweet woodruff. Similar concern exists for many herbs, spices, and green vegetables, including ginko, garlic, chamomile, and cinnamon. Broccoli in particular, but other green vegetables as well, contain Vitamin K lat levels that can also cause increased tendency to bleed for anyone taking blood thinners. In fact alcoholic beverages also cause increased bleeding tendencies.

    The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment established a value that is safe for daily ingestion of coumarin that translates to about 6 mg daily for a person weighing 135 pounds. That is 6 mg of couarin, not 6 mg of sweet woodruff. And it should be noted that coumarin is not present in that form in sweet woodruff in any event. The precursers that are present are measured in PPM, that is, present in extremely small amounts and some studies failed to detect the presence of coumarin in sweet woodruff even after it had been dried and preserved.

    Like all things, moderation is key, and anyone who takes any herbs in large quantities either to enhance the taste of their food or for a presumed medical therapeutic effect should be consulting with a trained herbalist, just as patients taking medications should be getting similar information about drug/herbal interactions from their physicians.

  4. Columbines cross-pollinate themselves so, if you leave them to cast the seeds you can expect all kinds of flowers.


Thank you for leaving a comment for us. We try to reply to each one here on the blog so feel free to ask questions and we will respond. Do be sure to subscribe to the comments so you will receive our reply by email. Otherwise, you can email us for a more personal, detailed reply to a query.

Spam Alert: Spammers, our spam blocker keeps most of you out and the few that slip through with inappropriate links, we immediately delete so you probably shouldn't even waste your time.

Everyone else, do have a great gardening day!