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Alaska Wildflowers | Purple

Many purple flowers on a larkspur (delphinium glaucum) in Alaska.

Larkspur

Delphinium glaucum S. Watson

Alt Names:
Mountain larkspur
Sierra larkspur
Glaucous larkspur
Giant larkspur
Brown’s larkspur
Hooker’s larkspur
Duncecap larkspur
Western larkspur

Genus: Delphinium
Family: Ranunculaceae
Order: Ranunculales (buttercups)

Duration: Perennial

Uses: Not edible, very poisonous. The entire plant is toxic. Can be fatal to humans and animals.

Identification and Information

Flower: Purple, bell-shaped, 5 spurred petals
Leaves: Long, narrow, green, 5 lobed leaves
Root: Woody

Larkspur is a tall, single stem flowering plant that grows 3-6 ft (0.9-1.8 m) in height. The stem is a densely flowered inflorescence containing a few to over 50 flowers. Similar in look to monkshood, but without the hood. The hollow stem is often purplish in color. The leaves are green, toothed, narrow, and long and packed most densely at the base, getting smaller and fewer higher up. The spurred flowers are long, conical or bell-shaped, and purple or blue-purple.

Delphinium glaucum has been known to kill, causing neuromuscular paralysis in cattle and sometimes sheep or horses in western states as it is incredibly toxic, especially before maturity. The seeds are among the most toxic part of the plant.

Distribution and Habitat

Delphinium glaucum is native to Alaska and the majority of the western US and Canada. Larkspur is frequently found in meadows and lightly wooded areas with deep, moist soil.

Alaska Wildflowers Overview

References

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 7
Delphinium glaucum, Wildflower.org Plant Database
Delphinium glaucum, ITIS database
Larkspur (Delphinium spp.) , USDA Poisionous Plant Research
7. Delphinium glaucum S. Watson, Bot. California. 2: 427. 1880., Flora of North America; www.eFloras.org

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