Letter | Published:

A Mutation of the Columbine

Nature volume 110, page 701 (25 November 1922) | Download Citation



Last summer a remarkable mutation of the blue columbine (Aquilegia cœrulea James) was discovered by Miss Madeline Gunn near the Smuggler Mine, in the vicinity of Ward, Colorado. Only a single plant was found, growing under a spruce tree. The flowers are of good size (about 63 mm. diameter), with the pale blue sepals deeply trifid apically, the divisions about 12 mm. long, broad basally, the outer ones overlapping the median one (Fig. 1). In one case the median division is bifid apically. The petals are white, the laminae and spurs shorter than usual. The form may be called mut. trifida; it represents a striking new type which, if it can be propagated, will be a notable addition to horticulture. Were it received from some remote region, it would appear to be a very distinct new species, or some might even wish to separate it generically. The trifid structure is characteristic of the divisions of the leaves of Aquilegia, and no doubt we may say that a quality of the leaf has been transferred to the sepals. Numerous cases of phyllody of the calyx in various flowers have been described by Maxwell Masters and others, but in this case the sepals are not at all leaf-like, and if such flowers were common they would not strike any one as abnormal.

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  1. University of Colorado.

    • T. D. A. COCKERELL


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