Sunday, May 29, 2011

Prairie Plant Profile #3 - Prairie Larkspur

A year ago I started a monthly feature on this blog called Prairie Plant Profile. Each month, I profile a plant in my prairie that has my attention at the moment and describe my experiences with the plant. So a year later, it is time for the second monthly installment of Prairie Plant Profile.

Prairie Larkspur, Delphinium carolinianum, is a perennial wildflower with a range from Texas to Canada and across the southern United States. The flower spikes grow up to 3 feet above the deeply cut leaves that cluster near the ground. It prefers a full to partial sun exposure and well drained soil. Prairie Larkspur blooms over a 3-4 week period between April and June. The leaves usually die to the ground in hot weather. I have not noticed any insect or disease issues with Prairie Larkspur.

My plant has white flowers with just a hint of blue, but there are also plants with solid blue flowers and every shade of blue in between. Botanists once thought the white and blue flowered plants were separate species, but now believe they are the same species.

Here is a look at the leaves at the base of the plant.

The spur at the top of the flower gives the Prairie Larkspur its common name.

Some references indicate that Prairie Larkspur is a short lived perennial. I was concerned that my plant would not see another season because its leaves did not emerge from the soil until late April this spring. Fortunately, it is still alive and blooming, so I should be able to harvest seeds and try to start more plants.

I have not had success germinating the seeds from this plant yet. One year I let the seeds fall naturally around the plant and the second year I harvested the seeds and planted them in early spring. This year, I will plant seeds in the fall and throw some of them in my decomposed granite pathways since seeds for every plant in my prairie seem to germinate with ease in my pathways. Prairie Larkspur seeds can be purchased online at Native American Seed and Prairie Moon Nursery.

Check back in 2012 for the third monthly installment of Prairie Plant Profile.

07-29-11 Update. Oops! This is actually installment #3. I forgot Prairie Plant Profile #2 was Brown-eyed Susan. Click here for a link to that post.


  1. What a lovely plant...reminds me of the blue Larkspur we have here in the PNW (although I've never seen it for sale, unfortunately). Good luck enlarging your would be amazing to have dozens of them dotted throughout your garden.

  2. Scott, I rescued this larkspur from a small piece of land next to a railroad track a couple of miles from my house. I watched the plants bloom for a couple of springs. I wanted to get some seeds from the plants, but they were always mowed down before the seeds were ready for harvesting. Two years ago, I finally decided to become a wildflower rustler and dig up a plant. I should do a post on my adventures as a wildflower rustler. I have 5 or 6 species growing in my yard that I rescued from sure eradication. I hope I can get more larkspurs established from this plant’s seeds. I have never seen this plant for sale other than the seed sources mentioned.


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