Anderson's Larkspur (Pale Larkspur)
Delphinium andersonii var. scaposum
Family: Ranunculaceae – Buttercup Family
Perennial herbs; dicot; 4” to 2.5' (10 to 75 cm) tall
Leaves: mainly basal or more prevalent on lower part of the stem; the few leaves on upper part of the stem are alternate; compound - palmately divided or lobed into 3 parts; 0.4” to 2.4” (1 to 6 cm) wide
Flowers: 4 blue or purple petals (2 unlike sets of 2 petals, the upper pair spurred with no claws and the lower pair clawed); 5 blue or purple petaloid sepals; stamens several to many; 3-5 pistils; flowers perfect and large and showy; 1 to 15 flowers borne on stem; flowers 1.2” to 6” (3 to 15 cm)
Pollinators: other genera in this family are pollinated by insects (specifically bees and flies) and hummingbirds
Fruits: follicles; most fruits are poisonous
Blooms in Arches National Park: May, June
Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities
Location seen: Windows, Delicate Arch Viewpoint, north of Tapestry Arch (on Broken Arch trail)
Other: The genus name, “Delphinium”, means “like a dolphin” and refers to the shape of the flower buds. The species name, “andersonii”, honors surgeon and botanist, Dr. Charles Lewis Anderson, (1827-1910) who collected plants in Nevada. The variety name, “scaposum”, comes from “scaposa” which means “with a conspicuous scape”. A scape is a flower stalk with no leaves arising from a rosette of leaves.
This plant contains the alkaloid, dephinine, which is very toxic to livestock. After flowering, the plant's alkaloid toxicity diminishes.
Did You Know?
In the late 1800s, John Wesley Wolfe, a disabled Civil War veteran, and his son, Fred, built a homestead in what is now Arches National Park. A weathered log cabin, root cellar, and corral remain as evidence of the primitive ranch they operated for more than 10 years.