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Columbine in Madrid

The common name comes from the Latin word columba, meaning "dove," a reference to how the spurred flower of some species resembles a small flock of these birds. Moreover, the scientific name for the genus, Aquilegia, is derived from the Latin word aquila, or "eagle," because the columbine's "spurs" often assumes the shape of a raptor's talons.


The columbines are a diverse group of flowering plants, totaling about 70 species in the wild. They are widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere, inhabiting climates that range from warm-temperate to arctic-alpine.

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Taken on May 26, 2007