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Delphinium scaposum (Synonym: Delphinium Andersonii) (Desert Delphinium)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, May 13, 2004.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, March 6, 2007.

This Delphinium is found in the semi-desert and low foothills.  It grows to several feet tall, has few, lobed leaves at the base, and delicate pale-blue to inky-blue flowers. Numerous clusters of basal leaves are noticeable for weeks in early spring before the flower stalk begins growing.  If sufficient moisture is not available, many of these basal clusters will yellow and wither. For the hardy surviving plants, flower stalks emerge and show their attractive flowers from late March through April and into May.

Linnaeus named this genus in 1753.  "Delphinium" is from the Latin "delphinus", "Dolphin", for the resemblance of the flower buds to Dolphins.  (Click to see the Dolphins.) Edward Greene collected the first specimens of this plant for science in either 1880 or 1881 in southern New Mexico and he named and described it in 1881.

A scape is a leafless flower stalk; "scaposum" indicates multiple stalks.

  Delphinium scaposum

Delphinium scaposum (Synonym: Delphinium Andersonii) (Desert Delphinium)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

 

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Above Yellow Jacket Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, May 8, 2009.

  Delphinium scaposum

Delphinium scaposum (Synonym: Delphinium Andersonii) (Desert Delphinium)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

 

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 25, 2009.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Delphinium scaposum