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Aquilegia (canadensis)

John M. Englert
USDA NRCS - Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center
Bldg. 509, BARC - East, E. Beaver Dam Road
Beltsville, Maryland 20705
(301) 504-8175
(301) 504-8741 (fax)

Family Scientific Name: Ranunculaceae
Family Common Name: Buttercup Family
Scientific Name: Aquilegia canadensis
Common Name: Columbine
Species Code: AQUCAN
Ecotype: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
General Distribution: Nova Scotia to Saskatchewan and south to Florida and Texas. Found in dry woods, rocky cliffs or open areas. Frequent in mountain and midland zones but rare in coastal regions.
Propagation Goal: plants
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Container (plug)
Stock Type: Container plugs
Time To Grow: 15 Weeks
Target Specifications: Stock Type: Container plug in Ropak multipots or quarts. Height: Depends on size of container. Because of the close proximity of plants in plug trays such as multipots, development of tall, dense foliage needs to be restricted through periodic cut backs. The plug should have a well-developed crown which readily produces new growth. Caliper: N/A. Root System: full,firm plug.
Propagule Collection: Collected in Shenandoah National Park, Little Hogback Overlook, Mileposts 19.5, 100-102, 104-105 by J. Englert, (Park) on 7/27/92, 8/20/92 and 7/93; D. Dusty, (NPMC field-grown) 6/96, 7/97 and 6/7/98.
Propagule Processing: Seed Processing: Seed is mature and ready for collection when it turns black in the follicles. Ripening may occur while the follicles are still green. Fruiting stalks are cut off by hand with pruners and collected upside down in large plastic containers. Harvested seed was cleaned mechanically with a debearder and small clipper (screens 1/12, blank). Smaller amounts of fruiting stalks may also be cleaned by hand. Place them upside down in a large paper bag for a few days until the follicles dehisce, then shake until seeds fall out and collect at the bottom of the bag.
Seed storage: Seed is stored in seed bags in the NPMC cooler at 40§ F, 35% relative humidity.
Seeds/Kg: Approximately 55,000.
Germination: Untested.
Purity: 99%.
Pre-Planting Treatments: Seed Treatments: Would suggest surface sowing and a 3-4 week chilling period as a precaution, although we have achieved adequate germination without following this protocol.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Propagation Environment: Greenhouse with alternating day/night temperatures. Supplemental lighting to extend day length was not provided.

Seed Propagation Method: Hand sown into germination trays.

Container Type and Volume: Seedlings were started in 392 or 406 germination plug trays and transplanted to Ropak multipots and then bumped up to quarts.

Growing Media: Seeds were sown in Fafard Germination Mix then transplanted to Pro-Mix BX amended with 180 day Nutricote SR 18-6-8 @ 0.15 lb. per cu. ft. of potting mix.
Establishment Phase: Sowing Date: Although these plants were started in August as part of a protocol experiment, plugs could be started in early winter (November or December) and be ready for spring delivery in April.

Emergence and Date: 42-46%.

Sowing/Planting Technique: Some sources indicate that seeds need a chilling period and light to germinate, however we achieved adequate germination without chilling or surface-sowing. We have not tried this protocol yet as a comparison. Seed flats do need to be kept evenly moist during germination. Since foliage is fragile, avoid fertilization and rough handling when seedlings are in germination trays.

Establishment Phase: Seedlings are transplanted from 406 germination trays when their roots fill the plug cells. Seedlings may have to be pushed up from the bottom of the germination trays because foliage is easily broken if pulled.
Active Growth Phase: Rapid Growth Phase: Plugs will need cut backs to promote air circulation on the media surface and to prevent development of fungus or shading of new growth from the crown. Plants in multipots should be cut back before transplanting to prevent foliage from tangling and breaking. Stunting and die back occurred when plugs outgrew their containers and larger leaves shaded smaller ones and prevented air circulation at the crown. New growth resumed within a week of transplanting.
Hardening Phase: Hardening Phase: About two weeks prior to outplanting, greenhouse temperatures are lowered or plants are placed outdoors in a sheltered area after danger of frost is past.
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Harvest Date: Plugs are outplanted in the spring. Mature seed is harvested from plants in June at the NPMC.

Total Time to Harvest: Approximately 15 weeks from germination to finished plug in Ropak Multipots. Plugs outgrew their multipot cells and were bumped up to quarts and held from November to April (120 days) until delivery to the park.

Seed storage: Seed is stored in seed bags in the NPMCcooler at 40§ F, 35% relative humidity.br>

Storage Conditions: Although not a routine practice, field-dug plants in gallon containers have been overwintered in a cooler and under microfoam with satisfactory results.
Length of Storage: <b>Storage Duration:</b> 3.5 to 4 months.
Other Comments: Aquilegia were not bothered as much as other species by powdery mildew or broad mites, however the waxy surface of the leaves sheds water-based pesticides (the solution beads up and rolls off). Field grown plants are grown inside an electric fence to protect them from deer at the NPMC.
References: Brown, M. L. and R. G. Brown. 1984. Herbaceous Plants of Maryland. Port City Press, Inc.

Gleason, H. A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, 2nd edition. New York Botanical Garden.

Phillips, Harry R.. 1985. Growing and Propagating Wild Flowers. UNC Press.


Kujawski, Jennifer L.; Davis, Kathy M.. 2001. Propagation protocol for production of Container (plug) Aquilegia canadensis plants Container plugs; USDA NRCS - Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center Beltsville, Maryland. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2021/09/19). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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