We may know that the shape of a flower has evolved to attract pollinators, but to human eyes, their variety is an irresistible opportunity to day dream and to nick name.
My favorite flower at this time of year is Columbine ( Aquilegia in Latin). My garden is overflowing with them at the moment, all from local wild seed, they are a riot of pale pinks, mauves and deep dark purples.
The long tongued garden bumble bee is certainly attracted to their shape and in extracting nectar, faithfully pollenates each flower. Other species are lazier and if you watch carefully these nectar robbers just snip into the spur and steal the nectar without touching the pollen.
I knew that Aquila is Latin for eagle and some see the claws of the eagle in the curled spurs at the back of the flower, but I never understood the English name columbine. In a herbal I read recently that Columba is Latin for dove and when you look at the spurs of the flower in this light; the claws are suddenly transformed into a ring of doves with delicate heads and beaks all joined by touching outstretched wings.
A less ornithological name is grannys’ bonnets, but in the 21st century I don’t know any grannies who still wear such things to determine the veracity of this!
Take a close look at the photo. Tell me what you see!