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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 533. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 6/2/2011)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 6/3/2011)
Contributor Text: HARALD RIEDL and YASIN J. NASIR
Contributor Institution: Naturhistorisches Museum, Botanische Abteilung, Wien, Austria.


National Herbarium, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Islamabad, Pakistan.

General/Distribution: A genus of c. 70 species, widespread in the Northern temperate regions of Europe, Asia and N. America, reaching its southern limit in N. Africa and N. Mexico. Represented in Pakistan by 4 species. Several species are widely cultivated as ornamental plants, sometimes escaping, becoming ± naturalised in various countries. In dry areas, columbines are confined to the few remaining humid localities as is already suggested by the texture of their stem and leaves.
Comment/Acknowledgements: In Pakistan, parts of flowers as well as the shape and length of the spur arranged to the flat limb of the petals are the most reliable characters for the separation of the species. Aquilegia chrysantha A. Gray with lemon flowers is sometimes cultivated in hill stations.

Doubtful Species

Aquilegia chitralensis Qureshi & Chaudhri in Pak. Syst. 2(1-2):14.1978.

This taxon is said to differ from Aquilegia pubiflora in the pink flowers and spur which is slightly curved.

I have not seen the type specimen (Muqarrab Shah & Dilawar Klan 2333, ISL), but the characters to distinguish this species from Aquilegia pubiflora are not reliable as seen in the following gatherings of Aquilegia pubiflora which occasionally exhibit red to pink colour, but otherwise are typical: Flowers wine coloured (Chamba, R.R. Stewart 8653, RAW) or mauve (R.R. & I.D. Stewart 18177 & C. E. Parkinson 7392 from Simla Hill States, RAW).

Aquilegia baluchistanica Qureshi & Chaudhri in Pak. Syst. 2(l-2):5.1978.

This species is said to differ from Aquilegia chitralensis in h aving leaf-sgments divided above the middle and 3-lobed bract. However, I could not examine the type of the taxon (Baluchistan: Sibi District: Kotal near Ziarat, Muqarrab Shah & Waliur-Rehman 1262 (ISL). (Date of collection: 25.5.1979). It is rather surprising that the type of Aquilegia chitralensis, bears 25.5.1979 as the date of collection wh ile the journal (Pak. Syst.) appeared in 1978. Obviously at least one of the dates is wrong.


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Perennials usually with a stout rhizome with simple or branched stems. Leaves mostly basal, temate to triternate, leaflets cuneate, obovate to flabellate with 2 or 3 deep incisions; stem-leaves much reduced in size. Sepals 5, regular, ± spreading, deciduous, petaloid. Petals 5, alternating with the sepals, consisting of a fiat limb and a hollow spur. Stamens numerous, the inner ones usually reduced to staminodes. Carpels mostly 5(-6) becoming erect. Follicles with a short beak and numerous shiny dark seeds.

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1 Spur distinctly hooked, much shorter than the limb of the petals (2)
+ Spur straight or slightly curved, longer or slightly shorter than the limb of the petals (3)
2 (1) Stems pubescent. Sepals 18-22 mm long. Flowers more than 2 2 Aquilegia pubiflora Wall. ex Royle var. pubiflora
+ Stems densely hairy. Sepals 7-12 mm long. Flowers 1-2 2 Aquilegia pubiflora var. mussooriensis
3 (1) Stem taller, branched, with several flowers. Spur slender, usually longer than 10 mm (4)
+ Stem low, not branched, usually 1-flowered. Spur saccate, about 10 mm long, shorter than the limb of petal 1 Aquilegia nivalis
4 (3) Follicles pubescent, with glandular hairs (5)
+ Follicles pubescent, with eglandular hairs (6)
5 (4) Limb of petals 12-25 x 8-11 mm. Sepals whitish 3 Aquilegia fragrans var. kanawarensis
+ Limb of petals 10-12 x 7-9 mm. Sepals bluish, petals paler 4 Aquilegia moorcroftiana var. afghanica
6 (4) Sepals (20 ) 25-30 x 10-12 mm. Limb of petals 15-18 mm 3 Aquilegia fragrans Benth. var. fragrans
+ Sepals 13-18 mm x 6-8 mm. Limb of petals 10-13 mm 4 Aquilegia moorcroftiana Wall. ex Royle var. moorcroftiana
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