This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Plant 10-20 inches high. Radical leaves large, on long stalks, divided into 7-11 oblong, acute, toothed segments, 3-4 inches long, the central ones free, the lateral ones connected together at the base. Flowers 2-4, large, drooping, yellowish green.
Woods and hedges, especially on limestone, and about old buildings in the plains and hills. March, April.
Western and Central Europe (British).
About 2 feet high, robust, with perennial leafy stems. Lower leaves not all radical, but forming a larger and thicker tuft than in H. viridis. Segments narrower, less toothed, and more shining. Flower-stem about a foot high, with a large close panicle of drooping flowers, of a pale green tinged with purple.
Common in stony pastures, chiefly in limestone districts, and sometimes in great masses on mountain slopes, such as those of the Jura. February to May.
Western and Central Europe as far as Styria. Spread through France, but rare in England.
This handsome species has prickly leaves divided into 3 lanceolate segments, and white or rose-coloured flowers with spreading sepals.
Mountain region of Corsica, Sardinia, and the Balearic Isles. November to April.
A genus of only 5 species inhabiting the mountains of Europe and Asia. Flowers regular. Sepals petaloid, deciduous. Petals small, 2-lipped.
Yellow petals and sepals. Flowers solitary and sessile in an involucre of green 'leaves.' Leaves glabrous, shining, appearing after the flowers, orbicular, but deeply cut into segments. Sepals petaloid, 5-8. Follicles 5-8, free, divergent, with a beak half their length.
Damp, wooded places, sometimes extending up to 5000 feet in the Alps, though very local. February and March. Frequently naturalised in shrubberies, etc., in Switzerland and Normandy, and well known in English gardens. Even in 1633 Gerard wrote, "We have great quantities of it in our London gardens".
Vosges, Jura, Alps of Dauphiny and Provence; Central Europe as far as Servia. In Switzerland it is rare, and only naturalised in orchards, vineyards, etc.
Perennial herbs with the leaves mostly radical, ternately divided, with distinct stalked segments or leaflets. Sepals 5, coloured. Petals 5, each prolonged below into a horn-shaped spur. Stamens numerous. Carpels 5, each with several seeds.
A small genus, spread over the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, especially in hilly districts.
Stem 1-2 feet high, 1-3 flowered. Leaves doubly ternate; leaflets deeply incised and 3-cleft, crenate. Flowers very large, the petaloid sepals broadly ovate, deep blue, the spur of the nectary somewhat curved. Petals 5, broad, paler blue, rather longer than the stamens. Follicles 5, densely hairy.
One of the most handsome plants of the Alps. Mr. Reginald Farrer says of it in My Rock Garden, page 46: "The flowers, dancing high on airy stems, are of enormous size, most exquisitely, daintily balanced, and of a soft, melting blue quite impossible to describe - a colour deep yet gentle, brilliant yet modest, perfectly clear and yet not flaunting." The same writer, in speaking of the cultivation of Columbines, tells us: "The essential is to give them perfect, quick drainage, and then a soil both rich and light. They dislike, too, being battered by winds and weather when they are coming up. The best that we can do is to remember how they lodge and dodge behind bushes on their native hills when they can, and give them some such similar protection in the garden".
Rocky, bushy places and escarpments in the Alps; 4500-6500 feet. July, August. Scattered and generally rare.
Switzerland, where it attains its eastern limit in the Engadine; Alps of Savoy, Dauphiny, and Provence; Mont Ventoux and Northern Italy.