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Delphinium tricorne

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LarkspurLarkspur is a fascinating member of the Buttercup family, with flowers almost as complex as the orchids and colorful blooms covering a spectrum from white to blue to violet. It is often called Dwarf Larkspur, which can be a little misleading. I have seen some plants that grow only a few inches high - and others that reach  over a foot.The plant emerges in March but takes a while to get going, and can be blooming from late April into May. The dark green,deeply-cleft leaves grow mostly from the base and lower half of the plant, alternating along the main stem. The flowers form in a loose, vertical grouping along the upper end of the plant's main stalk. The flowers look like they consist of 5 petals (of slightly unequal size) plus a spur at the back - it is actually a very complex flower consisting of both petals and sepals. Blooms can be anywhere from pure white to deep violet, and anything in-between, even on the same plant. It is not very widespread but grows in large patches wherever it has found a happy home, typically in moist rich soil. On basic soil the blooms tend to be all white. I have found large stands of it around Craven Gap and Bull Gap along the Mountains-to Sea Trail (near Parkway mileposts 377 and 375).

Larkspur closeupLarkspur earlyLeaves emerging in early spring.

Then, I happened to catch a hovering moth (often mistaken for bees) catching a snack at the Larkspur flowers.

A note on the nomenclature (naming conventions) on this site: Scientific names and classifications are constantly being argued and changed, and it drives me nuts. Although I use many different sources for knowledge, for naming consistency  I  use the  "Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas" by Radford, Ahles and Bell, 1968 edition. This book is a well-established authority for the plants of our region and I've been using it for years. If for some reason I must use a different source for a particular plant, I will make note of it within the descriptive text. Don't like it? Tough!

Fiona Dudley
986 Reems Creek Road
Weaverville NC 28787


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