prairie larkspur

(Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens)

Conservation Status
prairie larkspur
 
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Prairie larkspur is a 20 to 32 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on a group of basal leaves and 1 to 8 stems from fibrous roots. The roots are borne in 2 to 8 spreading bundles (fascicles) that may stretch more or less horizontally up to 32. They are sometimes stout but they are not tuber-like. The plant does not have a taproot and does not spread by underground stems (rhizomes).

A radiating group of 5 to 12 basal leaves forms a rosette rising from the root crown. Basal leaves are rounded to pentagonal in outline, up to 3 long, and up to 4¼ wide. They are on slender, up to 5½ long leaf stalks (petioles). They are deeply palmately divided into 5 to 7 segments. Each segment is further divided into 3 to 29 ultimate lobes. The ultimate lobes are linear to narrowly inversely egg-shaped and 1 16 to wide. They may be broadly angled to sharply pointed at the tip, or rounded at the tip with a minute, abrupt, sharp point. The upper and lower surfaces are covered with short, fine, grayish or whitish hairs making them velvety to the touch. The margins are untoothed. Basal leaves wither early but some are present at flowering time.

There are 4 to 12 alternate stem leaves above the basal rosette. Stem leaves are smaller, with fewer, narrower ultimate lobes and shorter petioles, but are otherwise similar to basal leaves. They become smaller, less divided, and have shorter petioles as they ascend the stem. Mid-stem leaves have 5 to 15 ultimate lobes, each 1 32 to ¼ wide. Petioles of upper stem leaves are ¼ to ½ long.

The stems are erect, greenish-white, and round. They are unbranched or sparsely branched just below the inflorescence. They are moderately to densely covered with short, whitish hairs.

The inflorescence is a narrow, elongated cluster of 8 to 27 flowers at the end of the central stem, and occasionally 1 or 2 shorter clusters. The cluster is usually unbranched, like a raceme, but is sometimes branched, and is therefore technically a panicle. The axis is moderately to densely covered with short, curled hairs. Individual flowers are on erect flower stalks (pedicels) that appear appressed to the axis, at least in the lower half of the inflorescence. The lowermost pedicels are ½ to 15 16long. Each pedicel is subtended by a single, undivided, linear, to ¼ long, ascending, modified leaf (bract). The bract subtending the lowermost pedicel is sometimes 3-lobed.

Each flower is irregularly shaped, about 1 long, and about wide. There are 5 sepals, 4 petals, 25 to 40 stamens, and usually 3, sometimes 4 or 5, pistils. The sepals are petal-like, white or greenish white to pale blue, to 9 16 long, and to ¼ wide. The lateral four sepals are spreading, to 9 16 long, and to ¼ wide. There is a small green or purple patch near the tip of each sepal. The upper sepal is similar but extended backward into a narrow, tube-like appendage (spur). The spur is to 9 16 long, to ¼ wide, and slightly curved upward. The petals are to ¼ long, free (not fused together), and white, sometimes tinged with blue or yellow. They protrude from the center of the group of sepals. The lower 2 petals are lobed for about half their length and bearded. They more or less cover the stamens. The stamens have yellow to brown anthers on 3 16 to ¼ long filaments. They are not showy.

The fruit is a dry, more or less cylinder-shaped, slightly curved, ½ to ¾ long seed pod (follicle) with numerous seeds. It has a 1 32 to long prolonged tip (beak) and may be covered with fine, short hairs or hairless. They occur in erect clusters of three joined together at the base.

The seeds are yellowish-brown or brown to almost black. They appear scaly due to a dense covering of tall, thin, undulating ridges.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

20 to 32

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

White to very pale blue

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  This is the only Delphinium in Minnesota. There are no similar species.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Dry. Prairies, open woods. Full sun to partial shade. Rocky or sandy soil.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

May to June

 
     
 

Pests and Diseases

 
 

 

 
     
 

Toxicity

 
 

Plants in the genus Delphinium are rich in the alkaloid delphinine, which is toxic to livestock. Deer generally avoid them.

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 30.

 
  3/24/2022      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Uncommon

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Ranunculanae  
 

Order

Ranunculales (buttercups, poppies, and allies)  
 

Family

Ranunculaceae (buttercup)  
  Subfamily Ranunculoideae (anemones, buttercups, larkspurs and allies)  
  Tribe Delphinieae  
 

Genus

Delphinium (larkspurs)  
  Species Delphinium carolinianum (Carolina larkspur)  
       
 

There are four subspecies of Carolina larkspur. Only ssp. virescens (prairie larkspur) occurs in Minnesota.

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Delphinium albescens

Delphinium carolinianum ssp. penardii

Delphinium carolinianum var. virescens

Delphinium penardii

Delphinium virescens

Delphinium virescens var. macroceratilis

Delphinium virescens var. penardii

Delphinium virescens ssp. penardii

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

Carolina larkspur

Penard’s larkspur

plains larkspur

prairie larkspur

white larkspur

wild larkspur

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Bearded

Bearing one or more tufts of hairs.

 

Bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.

 

Fascicle

A small bundle or cluster, often sheathed at the base, as with pine needles.

 

Filament

On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.

 

Follicle

A dry fruit formed from a single carpel, containing many seeds, that opens at maturity along the seed-bearing seam.

 

Linear

Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.

 

Palmate

Similar to a hand. Having more than three lobes or leaflets that radiate from a single point at the base of the leaf.

 

Panicle

A pyramidal inflorescence with a main stem and branches. Flowers on the lower, longer branches mature earlier than those on the shorter, upper ones.

 

Pedicel

On plants: the stalk of a single flower in a cluster of flowers. On insects: the second segment of the antenna. On Hymenoptera and Araneae: the narrow stalk connecting the thorax to the abdomen: the preferred term is petiole.

 

Petiole

On plants: The stalk of a leaf blade or a compound leaf that attaches it to the stem. On ants and wasps: The constricted first one or two segments of the rear part of the body.

 

Raceme

An unbranched, elongated inflorescence with stalked flowers. The flowers mature from the bottom up.

 

Rhizome

A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

 

Rosette

A radiating group or cluster of leaves usually on or close to the ground.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

Spur

On flowers: a hollow tubular appendage, often containing nectar, formed from a sepal or petal. On branches: a short shoot bearing leaves or flowers and fruit.

 

 
 
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Nancy Falkum

 
 

Prairie Larkspur and puccoon at TNC Cox Unit

 
    prairie larkspur      
           
    prairie larkspur      
 

Kevin Erickson

 
 

It volunteered in my lawn.

 
    prairie larkspur      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

Plant

 
    prairie larkspur   prairie larkspur  
           
 

Inflorescence

 
    prairie larkspur   prairie larkspur  
           
 

Flowers

 
    prairie larkspur   prairie larkspur  

 

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Other Videos
 
  Prairie Larkspur
Perry Brewer
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 22, 2009

Summary of the effects and how to identify Prairie Larkspur.

   
  Prairie Larkspur.
CSUExtension
   
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 12, 2011

Michael Fisher, Area Extension Livestock Agent in Colorado discusses the effects and identification of prairie larkspur.

   

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this plant.

 
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  Nancy Falkum
6/17/2022

Location: Weaver Dunes Preserve, Cox Unit

Prairie Larkspur and puccoon at TNC Cox Unit

prairie larkspur  
  Nancy Falkum
6/5/2021

Location: Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA, Weaver Dunes Unit

prairie larkspur  
  Kevin Erickson
6/20/2021

Location: 3 miles east of Hawley Minnesota at a private residence.

It volunteered in my lawn.

prairie larkspur  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
   

 

 

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