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No.27: Wild Columbine.
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Adirondack Letter No.27: "Columbine."
George and Martin visit the columbine at "The Shed," May 12, 2012. (photos)
All about Columbine." The columbine (A. vulgaris) is a plant of the Ranunculaceous genus Aquilegia, with coloured sepals and spurred petals . . ."
(From my mailbag.) "The migration of plants "in the wild" makes for fascinating conjecture."
More stuff in An Adirondack Miscellany.
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Date: Sat, 18 May 2012 20:09:13
From: Martin (Your Adirondack Guide)
To: Fourpeaks Visitors
At: < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Dear Fourpeaks Visitor,
Good day for a spring checkup I start with Joe at Gypsy to right
the fridge brought down one day by a winter blast. Screw it solid
to the base and to the cabin wall as well. No damage save for the
twisted copper feed line, chore listed for another day along with
a 6-inch butternut mysteriously fallen before its time.
At Sugar we admire the privy wracked and knocked clear off its
foundation, just now rebuilt with bark on pole maple inside and
out--a touch of backcountry class. The new popple by the porch is
strong with a good shape. Stressed from the start by a rotten
heart the maple I've worried about for years sprouts a robust
array of new growth reaching straight up--watershoots I'd call
them if it was apple. Never seen on maple. Not well formed, ugly
you might say, but vital. I'll not cut it.
At New Camp we service the pitcher pump, refill the bait boxes,
check the privy. Taking note again of the dead pine where the road
turns, it leans well away from the cabin. I still wonder at the
giant that shared the granite outcropping with the new camp when
it was built. Poor footing for a tree, it came down, all eighty
feet of it, one day forty years ago before I was wary of the risk.
Still there at field's edge. A reminder.
Lots to do and think about at The Cabin the oldest camp. I look
for burdock, a favorite for it's nourishing root, annoying burrs
and it's ominous life in Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter. It shows by
the doorway and I fence it to keep guests from trampling it. A
good sign, beware of evil. The new maples at field's edge are
doing well. Hardy one-inch whips today I had Joe save them out of
trash in the rocky jumble by the brook. Mowing this year I'll get
as close as I can to give them room. The twin oaks I favored years
ago are now good 5-inches, doing well just ten feet apart, a
chance I took to see how they'd adjust living so close.
I look for two pines by the Screen House, mature when I built the
place, one red and one white, towering overhead. We see the
Eastern pine has no life, sadness from that quickly morphing to
concern as the greater mass of it clearly leans right at the
building. Too risky to take it down by hand, we need Joe's Dad
with the machine to make it safe. The young spruce nearby finds
sunlight high overhead and keeps pushing it's spindly top ever
higher uncertain about the future.
I nearly miss the newcomers at my feet. Several frail stalks out
of unpromising soil and winter debris along with a hodgepodge of
rough grass and weeds support together a fine display of delicate
shapes in yellow and bright red. The petals terminate in slender
spurs of considerable size. I place them immediately on a high
ledge off Rattlesnake along with a growth of dwarfed and eerily
windtorn pine where we picknicked often in the early years. Never
encountered in any other place it became a point of our visits to
enjoy them bird-like and delicate in that faroff corner. Now
transported here just a few steps from my doorway!
Come see for yourself. Make a nature getaway. Time to view life in
its non-human, non-animal forms. You may discover a consonance
that is healthy and comforting beyond words. If you hurry you'll
make it in time for the marsh marigold by camp gate and along
several small forest streams I can tell you about where sun gets
in for them.
JUST CLICK http://4peaks.com/finquiry.htm to get a no-obligation
free detailed rental offer well suited to the season, your
personal interests and budget. I'd like to help make the natural
beauty of the Adirondack backcountry a part of your vacation
Your Adirondack Guide,
Member Whiteface Mountain Visitors Bureau
Member Lake Placid/Essex County Visitors Bureau
This is #27 of a really occasional newsletter, for Fourpeaks
guests or anyone who ever inquired about a Fourpeaks Getaway.
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George and Martin at the columbines.
Newcomers by The Shed . . .
. . . at The Cabin.
May 12, 2012.
Five unique petals each . . .
. . . terminating in an incurved, hornlike spur.
George regards dead Eastern (white) pine . . .
. . . and weak Scotch (red) pine neighbor.,
Wild columbine (A. vulgaris)
About the COLUMBINE
THE NAME The columbine (A. vulgaris) is a plant of the Ranunculaceous genus Aquilegia, with coloured sepals and spurred petals, giving the appearance of a bunch of pigeons. The generic name of Aquilegia is derived from the Latin aquila (an eagle), the spurs of the flowers being considered to resemble an eagle's talons. Formerly the columbine was known as Culverwort, the Saxon word culfre meaning a pigeon. In fact, literally, ‘columbine’ is derived from the Latin word columba which means ‘like a dove’ or ‘dove-coloured’, though in the secret language of flowers, the ‘columbine’ often represents folly, from the mythological perspective, its petals symbolize the seven gifts of the spirit. The wild columbine has only five petals, however, early artists, with their fervent imagination and devotion to the religious symbolism, retained the meaning by painting seven flowers on one stalk. The leaves are dark and bluish green on the upper surface and greyish beneath. The Columbine may be distinguished from all other flowers, by having each of its five petals terminated in an incurved, hornlike spur. The petals are tubular and dilated at the other extremity. Interestingly, the flowers are perfumed like hay.
CHARACTERISTICS The prehistoric beauty of the columbine flower (genus Aquilegia) makes this perennial a striking find in its wild state and a spectacular addition to a garden. It is easily propagated and is available in a plethora of species, hybrids, and cultivars. However, this flower should be approached with caution due to the lethal toxins of the columbine’s roots and seeds (See below.).
The columbine grows to at least 18 inches tall, and most cultivars exceed 3 feet. The flower sports five distinct spurred petals. When the flower blooms, the bell-shaped bud opens to reveal the stamen. The nectar accumulates in the spurs, weighing down the back of the flower and raising the face of the flower skyward. Hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies are all attracted to the bright colors and nectar of the columbines.
MYTHOLOGY In the religion and mythology of every ancient nation, the garden, fragrant with the varied sights and smells of beautiful flowers, is portrayed as the natural habitat of gods. Often sacred meaning is endowed upon certain flowers. Prominent among these is the columbine.
The flower is referred to in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and in one of Ben Jonson's poems.
It was once called "lion's herb", because it was believed those great felines ate it. As a consequence, people believed that by merely rubbing their hands with it, they became more courageous and daring.
It was also an herb of Venus, and was emblematic of folly and deserted love.
SYMBIOSIS: INSECTS They are used as food plants by some Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) caterpillars. These are mainly of noctuid moths – noted for feeding on many poisonous plants without harm – like Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae), Dot Moth (Melanchra persicariae) and Mouse Moth (Amphipyra tragopoginis). The Engrailed (Ectropis crepuscularia), a geometer moth, also uses columbine as larval foodplant.
SYMBIOSIS: HUMANS The flowers of various species of Colombine were consumed in moderation by Native Americans as a condiment with other fresh greens, and are reported to be very sweet, and safe if consumed in small quantities. The plant's seeds and roots are highly poisonous however, and contain cardiogenic toxins which cause both severe gastroenteritis and heart palpitations if consumed as food. Native Americans used very small amounts of Aquilegia root as an effective treatment for ulcers. However, the medical use of this plant is better avoided due to its high toxicity; columbine poisonings may be fatal.
Native Americans used infusions from different parts of the plant for a variety of ailments from heart trouble to fever and even as a wash for poison-ivy. When pulverized, the seeds, a commodity of intertribal commerce, were rubbed on the hands by men as a love charm and also used in some tribes as a man's perfume.
PROPAGATION Columbine is a perennial, which propagates by seed. It will grow to a height of 15 to 20 inches. It will grow in full sun, however, prefers growing in partial shade and well drained soil, and is able to tolerate average soils and dry soil conditions. Columbine is rated hardiness of Zone 3 so does not require mulching or protection in the winter.
An old-fashioned garden plant, cultivated in Europe and America since the mid-1600s. It's easy to grow from seeds or from divisions of rootstocks in the spring. It prefers a moist, well drained, slightly acid, sandy loam with organic matter but will grow in a wide range of soils, including clays, especially if they drain well and have organic matter added. It does best in light shade but will tolerate full sun if daytime temperatures are not too hot.
The beauty of the columbine flower contrasts sharply with the toxicity of its seeds and roots. These cardiogenic toxins cause severe gastroenteritis, as well as heart palpitations. Although Native Americans have been known to use small quantities of the flower to treat ulcers and have eaten the sweet-tasting columbines with other fresh greens, eating any part of the plant is not recommended because columbine poisonings can be fatal. However, some butterfly and moth caterpillars are able to use columbines as a larval food plant. The lethal toxins found in the seeds and roots of columbines makes this flower an inadvisable choice for parents of small children and owners of pets such as cats or dogs.
(An Email Exchange.)
"The migration of plants "in the wild" makes for fascinating conjecture."
Fri, 18 May 2012 20:08:14 -0400
Martin Your Adirondack Guide
Your words transport me to Fourpeaks! I am looking forward to our visit. Columbines are some of my favorite flowers. This weekend, I will be planting some seedlings of three varieties I grew from seed. Here's an adapted photo of a wild bloom.
Take care and be well!
"Martin (Your Adirondack Guide)"
Sat, 19 May 2012 06:04:01 -0400
Thanks very much for your response.
Looking forward to your visit.
P.S. The migration of plants "in the wild" makes for fascinating conjecture.
The columbine seeds at The Cabin came on the wings of some butterfly or moth.
Burdock is "at the doorstep" because that's where people shake the burrs
off their clothing before going inside. (My son Murray gave me this.
I now have burdock by my door at Camp Barn!)
Sat, 19 May 2012 08:51:09 -0400
Martin Your Adirondack Guide
It is interesting how nature can tell stories....
CLICK HERE for more Fourpeaks Email Exchanges. Verbatim email exchanges with guests and prospective guests. Many of them informative. All of them good clean fun, even those about very serious subjects. Great if you like to read other people's mail.
An Adirondack Miscellany Newspaper and Magazine articles, Books and lots more.
Ice storm of the Century Devastates Northcountry.January 1998
Town of Jay Happy 200th Birthday Party at the 1829 Southmayd Stone House May 1998
Natives and Outsiders at the Jay Old Covered Bridge. June 1998
Jane McCrae Murdered by Indians in Ft. Edward NY. July 1777
Adirondack Great Camps: Adventures in the Wilderness.
Miss P, the famous www.Internet web purrcat, interviews Tramp, our Fourpeaks barking cocker.
Ironman USA comes to Fourpeaks.
Chickadees In Winter
Flying Critters on your Adirondack Vacation.
Adirondack Letters: "Hints of Balsam and Pine from our corner of the Adirondacks."
AuSable River Swimming: Where the Pools Are Never Crowded, And Water Slides Are Nature's Own (New York Times)
A new novel about Fourpeaks: Moss Krupnick's Daughters of Utopia, 196 pages, $9.98
For your Adirondack experience--"Stay Awhile In Style!" Plattsburgh-Republican November 2002.
NATURE WITHIN REACH: Luxury Camping. (July 2004, Southwest Airlines SPIRIT (In-flight Magazine.)
Annual Jay Yard Sale. (First Sale August 19, 2006.)
Glamping. (Glamorous Camping.) (Jan-Feb, Nov-Dec 2008, Women's Adventure Magazine.)
"Imagine a place that preserves the charm of the nineteenth-century back-country dwellings . . ." ADIRONDACK LIFE, 2006 Collectors Issue.
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