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Delphinium scaposum

 

Delphinium scaposum

Delphinium scaposum    Delphinium scaposum

 
  Delphinium scaposum   Delphinium scaposum

Delphinium scaposum variety scaposum. Synonym: Delphinium Andersonii. (Desert Larkspur)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring, Summer.
Above: Lower Cross Canyon, Utah, May 30, 2019; Carpenter Natural Area, Cortez, May 25, 2019.
Left: Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, May 13, 2004 and
Lower Butler Wash, Utah, April 20, 2017.

Delphinium scaposum is found in the semi-desert and low foothills.  It grows to several feet tall, has lobed leaves at the base, and delicate pale-blue and white to inky-blue and white flowers. Numerous clusters of basal leaves are noticeable for weeks in early spring before the flower stalks begin growing.  If winter and spring moisture is abundant, multi-stemmed plants, such as those at the top of the page, flower in profusion. In normal years plants have fewer stems and fewer flowers. Insufficient moisture brings withering of many of the basal leaf clusters and few flowering stems. Depending on the moisture, the attractive flowers show themselves from late March through April and May and even into June.

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 species 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 stem. "Scaposum" indicates multiple stems, which this species has when there is an abundance of moisture, but in dry conditions it is common to find only one flowering stem. In very dry conditions only the basal leaves grow and no flowering stems emerge.

  Delphinium scaposum

Delphinium scaposum variety scaposum. (Synonym: Delphinium Andersonii) (Desert Larkspur)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

 

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring, Summer.
Carpenter Natural Area, Cortez, March 10, 2017.

Delicate, attractively scalloped leaves are cut into leaflets and appear in early spring.

 

Delphinium scaposum

Delphinium scaposum

Delphinium scaposum

Delphinium scaposum variety scaposum. Synonym: Delphinium Andersonii. (Desert Larkspur)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring, Summer.
Yellow Jacket Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, May 8, 2009 and
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 25, 2009.

  Delphinium scaposum

Delphinium scaposum variety scaposum. Synonym: Delphinium Andersonii. (Desert Larkspur)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Woodlands, openings. Spring, Summer.
Lower Cross Canyon, Utah, May 18, 2019.

Blue and white are the colors of almost all Delphinium scaposum, so this multi-stemmed beauty was a real pleasant surprise.

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

Delphinium scaposum

Range map for Delphinium scaposum