Dwarf Larkspur (Delphinium tricorne)

Delphinium tricorne

Not a common plant around here, but locally abundant. The shockingly blue flowers and palmate leaves are distinctive: nothing else remotely like these Larkspurs is blooming in early spring. These plants were part of a large colony in the woods near Mayview State Hospital, where they were blooming in April. The pictures were taken on film in the year 2000, and sat forgotten in a box of slides until recently.

Dwarf Larkspur

Gray describes the genus and the species:

DELPHÍNIUM [Tourn] L. LARKSPUR. Sepals 5, irregular, petal-like ; the upper one prolonged into a spur at the base. Petals 4 (rarely only 2, united into one), irregular, the upper pair continued backward into long spurs which are inclosed in the spur of the calyx, the lower pair with short claws. Pistils 1-5, forming many-seeded pods in fruit. — Leaves palmately divided or cut. Flowers in terminal racemes. (Name from Delphin, in allusion to the shape of the flower, which is sometimes not unlike the classical figures of the dolphin.)

D. tricórne Michx. (DWARF L.) Root a tuberous cluster; stem simple, 1.5-9 dm. high; leaves deeply 5-parted, their divisions unequally 3-5-cleft; the lobes linear, acutish; raceme few-flowered, loose; flowers bright blue, sometimes white, occasionally numerous; spur straightish, ascending; pods strongly diverging. — W. Pa. to Minn., Neb., and southw. Apr., May.

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