Delphinium staphisagria
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Delphinium

See text

Larkspur on high mountain rangelands in central Utah

Delphinium is a genus of about 300 species of perennial flowering plants in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, native throughout the Northern Hemisphere and also on the high mountains of tropical Africa.[1] The common name, larkspur, is shared with the closely related genus Consolida. Molecular data show Consolida, as well as another segregate genus, Aconitella, are both embedded in Delphinium.[2]

The leaves are deeply lobed with 3-7 toothed, pointed lobes in a palmate shape. The main flowering stem is erect, and varies greatly in size between the species, from 10 centimetres in some alpine species, up to 2 metres tall in the larger meadowland species; it is topped with a raceme of many flowers, varying in color from purple and blue to red, yellow or white. The flower has five petal-like sepals which grow together to form a hollow pocket with a spur at the end, which gives the plant its name. Within the sepals are four true petals. The seeds are small and often shiny black. The plants flower from late spring to late summer, and are pollinated by butterflies and bumble bees. Most species are toxic.[3] Despite the toxicity, Delphinium species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the dot moth and small angle shades.



Other names are lark's heel by Shakespeare, lark's claw and knight's spur. The scientific name comes from the Latin for dolphin, alluding to the shape of the opening flower,[3] from the Greek word delphis, a reference to the flower's resemblance to the bottle-like nose of the dolphin.


The forking larkspur (Delphinium consolida) prefers chalky loams. It grows wild in cornfields, but has become very rare nowadays. The flowers are commonly purple, but a white variety exists, as well.

Baker's larkspur (Delphinium bakeri) and yellow larkspur (D. luteum), both native to very restricted areas of California, are highly endangered species.

Cultivation and uses

A modern hybrid Delphinium cultivar selected for garden use

Many species are cultivated as garden plants and for flower arrangements, with numerous cultivars available. [4] Most are derived from D. elatum (D. x elatum), found in the Alps. Hybridisation was developed in 19th century France by Victor Lemoine. [5] Common groups include Pacific Giant (Round Table), named after Arthurian characters, Dwarf Pacific, New Millenium and Magic Fountain.

All parts of the plant contain an alkaloid, delphinine, so are very poisonous, causing vomiting when eaten, and death in larger amounts. In small amounts, extracts of the plant have been used in herbal medicine. Gerard's Herbal reported drinking the seed of larkspur was thought to help against the stings of scorpions, and that other poisonous animals could not move when covered by the herb, but does not believe it himself. Grieve's herbal reports that the seeds can be used against parasites, especially lice and their nits in the hair. A tincture is used against asthma and dropsy.[6] The juice of the flowers, mixed with alum, gives a blue ink. The plant was connected to Saint Odile, and in popular medicine was used against eye diseases. It was one of the herbs used on the feast of St. John, and as such, warded off lightning. In Transylvania, it was used to keep witches from the stables, probably because of its black color.[citation needed]

Larkspur, especially tall larkspur, is a significant cause of cattle poisoning on rangelands in the western United States.[7] Larkspur is more common in high-elevation areas, and many ranchers will delay moving cattle onto such ranges until late summer when the toxicity of the plants is reduced.[8] Death is through cardiotoxic and neuromuscular blocking effects, and can occur within a few hours of ingestion.[9]


Species include:

  • Delphinium alabamicum: Alabama larkspur
  • Delphinium alpestre: Colorado larkspur
  • Delphinium altissimum
  • Delphinium andersonii: Anderson's larkspur
  • Delphinium andesicola: Chiricahua Mountain larkspur
  • Delphinia antoninum: Tracy's larkspur
  • Delphinium bakeri: Baker's delphinium
  • Delphinium barbeyi: Subalpine larkspur
  • Delphinium basalticum: Basalt larkspur
  • Delphinium bicolor: Little larkspur
  • Delphinium brachycentrum: Northern larkspur
  • Delphinium brownii
  • Delphinium brunonianum
  • Delphinium bulleyanum
  • Delphinium caeruleum
  • Delphinium californicum: California larkspur
  • Delphinium cardinale
  • Delphinium carolinianum: Carolina larkspur
  • Delphinium cashmerianum
  • Delphinium chamissonis: Chamisso's larkspur
  • Delphinium cheilanthum
  • Delphinium consolida
  • Delphinium corymbosum
  • Delphinium decorum: Coastal larkspur
  • Delphinium delavayi
  • Delphinium denudatum
  • Delphinium depauperatum: Slim larkspur
  • Delphinium dictyocarpum
  • Delphinium distichum: Twospike larkspur
  • Delphinium duhmbergii
  • Delphinium elatum: Candle larkspur
  • Delphinium exaltatum : Tall Larkspur
  • Delphinium fissum
  • Delphinium formosum
  • Delphinium geraniifolium: Clark Valley larkspur
  • Delphinium geyeri: Geyer's larkspur
  • Delphinium glareosum: Olympic larkspur
  • Delphinium purpusii: Kern County larkspur
  • Delphinium pylzowii
  • Delphinium ramosum: Mountain larkspur
  • Delphinium recurvatum: Byron larkspur
  • Delphinium requienii
  • Delphinium robustum: Wahatoya Creek larkspur
  • Delphinium roylei
  • Delphinium sapellonis: Sapello Canyon larkspur
  • Delphinium scaposum: Tall mountain larkspur
  • Delphinium scopulorum: Rocky Mountain larkspur
  • Delphinium semibarbatum
  • Delphinium speciosum
  • Delphinium stachydeum: Spiked larkspur
  • Delphinium staphisagria
  • Delphinium sutchuense
  • Delphinium sutherlandii: Sutherland's larkspur
  • Delphinium tatsienense
  • Delphinium treleasei: Glade larkspur
  • Delphinium tricorne: Dwarf larkspur
  • Delphinium triste
  • Delphinium trolliifolium: Columbian larkspur
  • Delphinium uliginosum: Swamp larkspur
  • Delphinium umbraculorum: Umbrella larkspur
  • Delphinium variegatum: Royal larkspur
  • Delphinium verdunense
  • Delphinium vestitum
  • Delphinium villosum
  • Delphinium virescens
  • Delphinium viridescens: Wenatchee larkspur
  • Delphinium viride
  • Delphinium wootonii: Organ Mountain larkspur
  • Delphinium xantholeucum: Yellow-white larkspur
  • Delphinium yunnanense
  • Delphinium zalil: Zalil


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Delphinium — Dauphinelle …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Delphinium — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda ? Delphinium Delphinium staphisagria …   Wikipedia Español

  • delphinium — [ dɛlfinjɔm ] n. m. • 1694; gr. delphinion « dauphinelle » ♦ Bot. Plante herbacée (renonculacées) dont une espèce (dauphinelle, pied d alouette) est cultivée pour ses hampes florales bleues, roses ou blanches. Des delphiniums. ● delphinium,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • delphinium — planta de la familia de la Ranunculáneas, cultivada con fines ornamentales, cuyas semillas son muy venenosas. Se han empleado externamente para el tratamiento de neuralgias dibujo de herbario [véase]… …   Diccionario médico

  • delphinium — [del fin′ē əm] n. [ModL < Gr delphinion, larkspur < Gr delphis, delphin, DOLPHIN: from some resemblance of the nectary to a dolphin] any of a genus (Delphinium) of plants of the buttercup family, bearing spikes of spurred, irregular flowers …   English World dictionary

  • Delphinĭum — (D. L., Rittersporn), Pflanzengattung aus der natürlichen Familie der Ranunculaceae Helleboreae, 13. Kl. 3. Ordn L.; Kelch blumenblattartig, fünfblätterig, das obere Blatt gespornt, Blumenkrone vierblätterig, die zwei oberen. Blätter gespornt,… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Delphinĭum — L. (Rittersporn), Gattung der Ranunkulazeen, Kräuter und Stauden mit handförmig geteilten Blättern, in gipfelständigen Trauben oder Rispen stehenden, meist blauen oder violetten, gespornten Blüten und mehrsamigen Balgkapseln, hat etwa 120 der… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Delphinium — Delphinĭum Tourn., Rittersporn, Pflanzengattg. der Ranunkulazeen. D. consolĭda L. (Feldrittersporn), überall auf Getreidefeldern, D. Ajācis L. (Gartenrittersporn), D. hybrĭdum Willd. (Bastardrittersporn) und andere Arten Zierpflanzen; die… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Delphinium [1] — Delphinium, lat. Name eines Gerichtshofes der Epheten zu Athen …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Delphinium [2] — Delphinium , eine an schönblühenden Arten sehr reiche Gattung, bei uns unter dem Namen »Rittersporn« allbekannt. Es sind meist ausdauernde Zierpflanzen, mit prächtigen blauen, aber auch weißen od. röthlichen, bisweilen gefüllten, immer aber… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon