Aquilegia, European Columbine, European Crowsfoot, Granny's Bonnets 'William Guiness'

Aquilegia vulgaris

Family: Ranunculaceae (ra-nun-kew-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Aquilegia (a-kwi-LEE-jee-a) (Info)
Species: vulgaris (vul-GAIR-iss) (Info)
Cultivar: William Guiness
Additional cultivar information:(aka Magpie, William Guinness)



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:



18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


15-18 in. (38-45 cm)


USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Seed is poisonous if ingested

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Seward, Alaska

Alameda, California

Oakland, California

Pine Grove, California

San Diego, California

Temecula, California

Fallston, Maryland

Buffalo, New York

Nineveh, New York

Carrollton, Ohio

Madison, Ohio

South Jordan, Utah

Radford, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Jan 28, 2016, Ancolie88 from Innsbruck,
Austria (Zone 6b) wrote:

William Guiness is one of the most beautiful cultivars of Aquilegia vulgaris. I will never miss it in May


On Apr 4, 2013, RikksRotten from Temecula, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Started a few from seed and they are doing great! Slow to start but I will get a bloom this summer. I have them behind some black lace dianthus that I also started from seed and in full Sun (but shaded by the dianthus). they lookgreat next to my eximia! gotta love those aquilegia's!


On May 8, 2012, riv from Pine Grove, CA wrote:

i got 3 little plants from, i believe, spring hill nurseries. they were so tiny and wilted when i got them, but i gave them a nice shady spot the first summer and they looked better. they never flowered that summer. they died back in winter and i despaired of them, but last summer, they came back strong and put out the most beautiful flowers of any aquilegia i have. this summer, they've multipled, either by root or seed, not sure which, and they're sending up their flower stalks now. very happy with this little beauty. it's not one that gets a ton of flowers on it, but they're just so striking in the sun, almost black with white, it's well worth it and they seem to seed themselves. they don't really like even morning sun and droop even when watered, so i'd say these are more for a shad... read more


On Jun 10, 2004, shadygrovepa from Millerstown, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

Although I love this plant, I have had very limited success. I discovered recently that the cause of my columbine's demise may have been caused by juglone toxin emitted from my black walnut trees. I will try again next spring at a different location...far from the black walnuts :)


On May 21, 2002, Baa wrote:

A very striking cultivar, sometimes sold as Magpie, William Guinness is the older name but they are the same plant.

Has short spurred, deep maroon petals and a white corolla. When grown away from other A vulgaris it often comes true from seed, saying that it grows very near to a double flowered, variegated A vulgaris in my garden and still has a good percentage of seedlings come true.

A double flowered, pompom form has been produced although the single is the bigger head turner. It has also been bred with A vulgaris Woodside to produce 'Golden Guinness', a golden leaved form with a similar flower to William Guinness and also occasionally throws a double flowered form.