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Delphinium scopulorum

(Rocky Mountain Larkspur)

Common Names

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Common Names in English:

Rocky Mountain Larkspur, Delphinium scopulorum


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Genus Delphinium

Herbs, perennial , from fasciculate roots or rhizomes. Leaves basal and/or cauline, petiolate , petioles gradually to abruptly shorter on distal leaves; basal leaves usually larger than cauline; cauline leaves alternate. Leaf 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. Inflorescences 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. Flowers 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. Fruits follicles, aggregate, sessile, ± curved-cylindric, sides prominently veined or not; beak terminal, straight, 2-4 mm. Seeds dark brown to black (often appearing white because of air in seed coat cells ), rectangular to pyramidal , often ± rough surfaced. x = 8.

Species ca. 300: n temperate and arctic subtropical and, in Eastern Hemisphere, tropical mountains (s of equator in Africa) .

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.[1]

Physical Description

Habit: Upright perennial .

Flowers: The flower has five petals which grow together to form a hollow flower with a spur at the end. Blooms in late spring to late summer. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

Foliage: Deeply lobed with 3-7 toothed , pointed lobes .


Size: 12-18" tall.


Care: Deer resistant. Heat tolerant . Use slug bait as needed. Work bone meal around the plants . Treat mildew with a mildew spray or dusting sulfur. When flowers fade, cut spikes just above foliage , leaving a foot of old stem.


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Culture: Space 12-15" apart. Allow seedheads to dry on plant before collection . Propate from seed by directly sowing outdoors in fall or using a coldframe or unheated greenhouse in winter. Finish planting by mid-April.

Soil: Prefers cool, rich, moist soil with a summer mulch. Needs good winter drainage .

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

Moisture: Water Requirements: Irrigate flowering plants freely at their base . Sprinkling may cause mildew .

Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 3a, 3b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b. (map)


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Delphinium exaltatum Aiton var. scopulorum (A. Gray) Huth • Delphinium Exaltatum Scopulorum


Name Status: Accepted Name .

Last scrutiny: 15-Mar-2000

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Delphinium

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 204 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus. Here are just 100 of them:

D. ajacis 'Lonnies' (Rocket Larkspur) · D. alabamicum (Alabama Larkspur) · D. alpestre (Colorado Larkspur) · D. andersonii (Anderson's Larkspur) · D. andersonii var. andersonii (Anderson´s Larkspur) · D. andesicola (Chiricahua Mountain Larkspur) · D. andesicola amplum (Chiricahua Mountain Larkspur) · D. andesicola andesicola (Chiricahua Mountain Larkspur) · D. antoninum (Tracy's Larkspur) · D. bakeri (Baker's Delphinium) · D. barbeyi (Barbey Larkspur) · D. basalticum (Basalt Larkspur) · D. bicolor (Flat-Head Larkspur) · D. bicolor bicolor (Little Larkspur) · D. bicolor calcicola (Little Larkspur) · D. bicolor var. montanense (Flathead Larkspur) · D. bicolor subsp. calcicola (Little Larkspur) · D. brachycentrum (Northern Larkspur) · D. brunonianum (Delphinium) · D. burkei (Burk Larkspur) · D. californicum (California Coast Larkspur) · D. californicum californicum (California Larkspur) · D. californicum californicum var. cardiophylla (California Larkspur) · D. californicum californicum var. cuneata (California Larkspur) · D. californicum f. longipilis (California Larkspur) · D. californicum interius (California Larkspur) · D. californicum interius var. integrifolia (California Larkspur) · D. californicum subsp. interius (California Larkspur) · D. cardinale (Scarlet Larkspur) · D. carolinianum (Carolina Larkspur) · D. carolinianum calciphilum (Carolina Larkspur) · D. carolinianum penardii (Carolina Larkspur) · D. carolinianum vimineum (Carolina Larkspur) · D. carolinianum virescens (Carolina Larkspur) · D. carolinianum subsp. calciphilum (Carolina Larkspur) · D. carolinianum subsp. vimineum (Carolina Larkspur) · D. carolinianum subsp. virescens (Carolina Larkspur) · D. caseyi (Casey's Larkspur) · D. chamissonis (Chamisso's Larkspur) · D. confertiflorum (Larkspur) · D. cultorum 'King Arthur' (Delphinium) · D. decorum (Coastal Larkspur) · D. decorum decorum (Coast Larkspur) · D. decorum tracyi (Coastal Larkspur) · D. decorum var. nevadense (Yellow-Tinge Larkspur) · D. decorum subsp. tracyi (Coastal Larkspur) · D. depauperatum (Slim Larkspur) · D. distichum (Two-Spike Larkspur) · D. elatum (Candle Delphinium) · D. elatum elatum (Candle Delphinium) · D. elatum 'Aurora Blue' (Candle Delphinium) · D. elatum 'Aurora Deep Purple' (Candle Delphinium) · D. elatum 'Barfourtyfour' (Candle Larkspur 'barfourtyfour') · D. elatum 'Blue Bird' (Candle Delphinium) · D. elatum 'Blue Lace' (Candle Delphinium) · D. elatum 'Blushing Brides' (Candle Delphinium) · D. elatum 'Brocade' (Candle Delphinium) · D. elatum 'Coral Sunset' (Larkspur) · D. elatum 'Delphis Hollands Glorie' (Larkspur 'delphis Hollands Glorie') · D. elatum 'Galahad' (Candle Delphinium) · D. elatum 'Green Twist' (Candle Delphinium) · D. elatum 'Justina' (Delphinium) · D. elatum 'Pacific Giant Round Table Mix' (Candle Delphinium) · D. elatum 'Sarita' (Larkspur) · D. elatum 'Summer Skies' (Candle Delphinium) · D. exaltatum (Tall Larkspur) · D. formosum (Hardy Larkspur) · D. geraniifolium (Clark Valley Larkspur) · D. geyeri (Geyer Larkspur) · D. glareosum (Olympic Larkspur) · D. glaucescens (Electric Peak Larkspur) · D. glaucescens multicaule (Glaucous Larkspur) · D. glaucum (Mountain Larkspur) · D. gracilentum (Pine Forest Larkspur) · D. grandiflorum (Blue Mirror Delphinium) · D. grandiflorum 'Blue Butterfly' (Dwarf Chinese Delphinium) · D. grandiflorum 'Butterfly Mixed' (Dwarf Chinese Delphinium) · D. grandiflorum 'Butterfly Rose' (Dwarf Chinese Delphinium) · D. grandiflorum 'Dwarf Blue Butterfly' (Dwarf Blue Butterfly Chinese Delphinium) · D. grandiflorum 'Summer Blues' (Chinese Delphinium) · D. grandiflorum 'Summer Nights' (Summer Nights Chinese Delphinium) · D. grandiflorum 'Summer Stars' (Summer Stars Delphinium) · D. gypsophilum (Gypsum Loving Larkspur) · D. gypsophilum gypsophilum (Gypsum-Loving Larkspur) · D. gypsophilum parviflorum (Pinoche Creek Larkspur) · D. gypsophilum subsp. parviflorum (Pinoche Creek Larkspur) · D. hansenii arcuatum (Eldorado Larkspur) · D. hansenii ewanianum (Eldorado Larkspur) · D. hansenii hansenii (Eldorado Larkspur) · D. hansenii kernense (Kern Larkspur) · D. hansenii subsp. ewanianum (Ewan's Larkspur) · D. hesperium (Foothill Larkspur) · D. hesperium cuyamacae (Cuyamaca Larkspur) · D. hesperium hesperium (Foothill Larkspur) · D. hesperium pallescens (Foothill Larkspur) · D. hesperium subsp. cuyamacae (Foothill Larkspur) · D. hesperium subsp. hesperium (Foothill Larkspur) · D. hesperium subsp. pallescens (Foothill Larkspur) · D. hutchinsoniae (Hutchinson's Larkspur) · D. inflexum (Larkspur)

More Info

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Further Reading

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  1. Michael J. Warnock "Delphinium". in Flora of North America Vol. 3. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
Last Revised: 2/1/2015