Aquilegia is contained in the Meadow Mat for Bees and Birds, surprisingly it has important benefits for the biome and is also good for protecting against liver disease as well as being a sedative.
I was surprised to see Aquilegia included in the mix as I thought this was a garden flower, I have lots in the garden and some in the field also. Great to know it has some benefits…
Aquilegia has a wide variety of phytonutrients, it's medicinal use is discussed by several authors in published papers, a quick google scholar search will bring them up.
Benefits to the Gut Bacteria in the Biome
The microbiome needs anti- microbial hormonally active phytochemicals for two reasons.
1 To interact with the endocrine system of the horse.
2. To provide nutrients to encourage bacteria diversity.
3. To provide nutrients to the bacteria that produce vitamins and make minerals more available.
4. To provide antimicrobials able to reduce the bad gut bacteria and the biofilm bacteria that hang out in the gut wall.
The leaves and stems of Aquilega are very high in the antimicrobials needed to fight the very modern problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Aquilegia has an ethnoveterinary history of being used to protect and treat liver disease in humans and animals. The leaves have different phytochemicals than the flowers, the flowers are high in anthocyanins (good anti -inflammatory).
The main isolated compound from the stem and leaves was Apigenin, you can buy this as a supplement, but it is best when fed as part of a plant as it’s action is supported by other plant chemicals, all have evolved to work symbiotically. The apigenin in Aquilegia is hepaprotective and is also a sedative, it has a high safety threshold.
Feeding Tip: Aquilegia flowers and leaves are consumed in many parts of the world, the flowers are sweet, the leaves aren't bitter, but when introducing this plant to the horse it is always best to cut small amounts and offer them in a mix of other plants and grasses. Only very small amounts ie. mg's of the phytonutrients may be needed by the horse, so let him or his bacteria self select! Throw away all uneaten material.