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Delphinium nudicaule

canyon delphinium, canyon larkspur, orange larkspur, red larkspur, red or orange larkspur, scarlet larkspur


2-80 cm, tuberlike or fibrous, dry or fleshy;

buds often less than 3 mm.


(15-)20-50(-125) cm;

base reddish, glabrous.

1-8(-19) per root;

base firmly attached to root or not.


blade round to pentagonal, 2-6 × 3-10 cm; ultimate lobes 3-12, width 5-40 mm (basal), 2-20 mm (cauline).

cauline and/or in basal rosette, gradually or abruptly reduced into bracts.



pedicel (1.5-)2-6(-8) cm, glabrous to glandular-pubescent;

bracteoles 14-20(-30) mm from flowers, green to red, linear, 2-4(-9) mm, glabrous to puberulent.


sepals scarlet to reddish orange, rarely dull yellow, glabrous, lateral sepals forward-pointing to form pseudotube, (6-)8-13(-16) × 3-6 mm, spurs straight, slightly ascending, (12-)18-27(-34) mm;

lower petal blades elevated, exposing stamens, 2-3 mm, clefts 0.5-1 mm;

hairs sparse, evenly dispersed, yellow.

sepals blue, purple, white, red, or yellow;

lower petal blades often same color as lateral sepals, usually greater than 1/5 length of lateral sepals (exceptions in red- and yellow-flowered species).


13-26 mm, 3.5-4.5 times longer than wide, glabrous.


unwinged or sometimes slightly wing-margined;

seed coat cells with surfaces smooth.


= 16.

Delphinium nudicaule

Delphinium sect. Diedropetala

Phenology Flowering late winter–early summer.
Habitat Moist talus, cliff faces
Elevation 0-2600 m (0-8500 ft)
from FNA
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]

Delphinium nudicaule hybridizes with most other taxa of Delphinium that it encounters. Apparent hybrids involving D. nudicaule, and seen by the author (either afield or as specimens), include D. andersonii, D. antoninum, D. decorum, D. luteum, D. nuttallianum, D. patens, and D. trolliifolium. In addition, garden-grown plants have been hybridized with D. cardinale, D. elatum, D. menziesii, D. parishii, D. penardii, D. tatsienense Franchet, D. triste Fischer ex de Candolle, and D. uliginosum; D. nudicaule does not naturally occur with these species. Delphinium nudicaule is one of the earliest larkspurs to flower in any given locality. Douglas's type collection of D. nudicaule represents plants (synonyms D. sarcophyllum Hooker & Arnott and D. peltatum Hooker, an invalid name) grown under very moist conditions, probably quite near the ocean. The type specimen of D. armeniacum A. Heller represents plants grown under unusually dry conditions.

The Mendocino Indians consider Delphinium nudicaule a narcotic (D. E. Moerman 1986).

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 3. FNA vol. 3, p. 197.
Parent taxa Ranunculaceae > Delphinium > sect. Diedropetala > subsect. Bicoloria Ranunculaceae > Delphinium
Sibling taxa
D. alabamicum, D. alpestre, D. andersonii, D. andesicola, D. antoninum, D. bakeri, D. barbeyi, D. basalticum, D. bicolor, D. brachycentrum, D. californicum, D. cardinale, D. carolinianum, D. decorum, D. depauperatum, D. distichum, D. elatum, D. exaltatum, D. geraniifolium, D. geyeri, D. glareosum, D. glaucescens, D. glaucum, D. gracilentum, D. gypsophilum, D. hansenii, D. hesperium, D. hutchinsoniae, D. inopinum, D. lineapetalum, D. luteum, D. madrense, D. menziesii, D. multiplex, D. newtonianum, D. novomexicanum, D. nuttallianum, D. nuttallii, D. parishii, D. parryi, D. patens, D. polycladon, D. purpusii, D. ramosum, D. recurvatum, D. robustum, D. sapellonis, D. scaposum, D. scopulorum, D. stachydeum, D. sutherlandii, D. treleasei, D. tricorne, D. trolliifolium, D. uliginosum, D. umbraculorum, D. variegatum, D. viridescens, D. wootonii, D. xantholeucum
Subordinate taxa
Synonyms D. armeniacum
Name authority Torrey & A. Gray: Fl. N. Amer. 1: 33. (1838) Huth: Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 20: 420. (1895)
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