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swamp larkspur

delphinium, larkspur

Habit Herbs, perennial, from fasciculate roots or rhizomes.

10-30(-70) cm;

base reddish or not, nearly glabrous.


blade obdeltoid, apically several parted, 1-8 × 1-7 cm, ± fleshy, glabrous; ultimate lobes 0-3, width 3-20 mm (cauline only);

margins of basal leaf, measured less than 1 cm from blade base, demarcating less than 90° of arc when leaf laid flat.

blade deeply palmately divided, round to pentagonal or reniform, margins entire or lobes apically crenate or lacerate, lobes of basal blades wider and fewer than those of cauline blades.


5-20(-48)-flowered, ± open;

pedicel 0.3-3(-10) cm, glabrous to puberulent;

bracteoles 2-3(-5) mm from flowers, green to blue, lanceolate-linear, 3-4(-7) mm, puberulent.

terminal, 2-100(-more)-flowered racemes (occasionally branched, thus technically panicles), 5-40 cm or more;

bracts subtending inflorescence branches;

pedicels present or absent;

bracteoles (on pedicels) subopposite-subalternate, not forming involucre.


sepals dark blue, nearly glabrous, lateral sepals spreading, 9-15 × 5-8 mm, spurs usually upcurved, ascending 30-45° above horizontal, 10-14 mm;

lower petal blades slightly elevated, ± exposing stamens, 4-5 mm, clefts 2-3 mm;

hairs centered, densest on inner lobe above base of cleft, also on margins, white.

bisexual, bilaterally symmetric;

sepals not persistent in fruit, 5;

upper sepal 1, spurred, 8-24 mm;

lateral sepals 2, ± ovate to elliptic, 8-18 mm;

lower sepals 2, similar to lateral sepals;

upper petals 2, spurred, enclosed in upper sepal, nectary inside tip of spur;

lower petals 2, plane, ± ovate, ± 2-lobed, clawed, 2-12 mm, nectary absent;

stamens 25-40;

filaments with base expanded;

staminodes absent between stamens and pistils;

pistils 3(-5), simple;

ovules 8-20 per pistil;

style present.


10-18 mm, 4.1-4.5 times longer than wide, puberulent.

follicles, aggregate, sessile, ± curved-cylindric, sides prominently veined or not;

beak terminal, straight, 2-4 mm.


seed coat cells with surfaces bumpy or wavy.

dark brown to black (often appearing white because of air in seed coat cells), rectangular to pyramidal, often ± rough surfaced.


= 8.


= 16.

Delphinium uliginosum


Phenology Flowering late spring–early summer.
Habitat Serpentine streamsides, chaparral, grassland
Elevation 400-600 m (1300-2000 ft)
from FNA
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
from USDA
n temperate and arctic subtropical and; in Eastern Hemisphere; tropical mountains (s of equator in Africa)
[BONAP county map]

Although some populations are large, Delphinium uliginosum is very local. Hybrids with D. hesperium subsp. pallescens have been seen.

Delphinium uliginosum is a very distinctive species, not likely to be confused with any other. The fan-shaped, slightly dissected leaves are apparently unique in the genus.

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

Species ca. 300 (61 in the flora).

Three Eurasian species of Delphinium–D. elatum Linnaeus, D. grandiflorum Linnaeus, and D. tatsienense Franchet–have been commonly cultivated in North America. Of the nonnative taxa, only D. elatum is sporadically naturalized, as far as is known. Isolating mechanisms in Delphinium appear to be primarily ecological, geographic, and/or temporal. Where these distinctions are disrupted, introgression often exists. Hybridization occurs regularly between certain taxa, particularly in areas of disturbance (e.g., roadcuts, drainage ditches, clearcuts). The more common and easily recognized hybrids are included in the key.

Many names have been misapplied in Delphinium. The few misapplied names mentioned in discussions below refer to relatively widespread problems.

Unless otherwise noted, the key and descriptions refer to fresh material. Some features may be significantly altered by pressing; they can, however, usually be determined with a certain amount of effort and experience.

In the descriptions, "base of cleft" refers to the point where the cleft or sinus reaches most deeply into the petal blade.

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

1. Lower petal blades less than 1/5 length of lateral sepals; sepals never red or yellow.
Sect. Elatopsis
1. Lower petal blades more than 1/5 length of lateral sepals; sepals blue, purple, white, red, or yellow.
Sect. Diedropetala
Source FNA vol. 3. FNA vol. 3. Author: Michael J. Warnock.
Parent taxa Ranunculaceae > Delphinium > sect. Diedropetala > subsect. Depauperata Ranunculaceae
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. nudicaule, 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. umbraculorum, D. variegatum, D. viridescens, D. wootonii, D. xantholeucum
Subordinate taxa
Sect. Diedropetala, Sect. Elatopsis
Name authority Curran: Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. 1: 151. (1885) Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 1: 530. 175: Gen. Pl. ed 5, 236. (1754)
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