Delphinium patens Benth. ssp. hepaticoideum Ewan

Spreading Larkspur
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)



Spreading larkspur is an erect to procumbent, slender-stemmed, herbaceous perennial growing to about 2' tall.  The leaves are several-parted on stems 2"-6" long, typically three-lobed with the lateral lobes two-cleft and the terminal lobe somewhat rounded and widest near the middle, and are few with most on the lower third of the stem.  The flowers develop on individual stems in a fairly long racemes.  There are five reflexed dark blue sepals, one of which is an almost straight, stout spur, and four whitish petals with blue lines.  The follicles are about a half-inch long with a curving tip. Spreading larkspur inhabits mostly shaded canyons below 5000' in or at the edge of grassland, chaparral or oak woodland, blooming from April to May. Some characteristics which might help one to differentiate between D. patens and D. parryi (which inhabit a similar or overlapping range) are as follows:  1) patens:  follicles glabrous and stems subglabrous, root tuberous, and stem easily separable from root, also blue lines on the upper petals;  2) parryi:  follicles and stems puberulent, root a cluster of woody or fibrous branches, and stem rather firmly attached to the root.  These pictures were taken along the Backbone Trail in the western part of the Santa Monica Mts.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Delphinium 2) patens 3) hepaticoideum.
Pronunciation: del-FIN-ee-um PAT-ens hep-at-i-KO-i-dee-um.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.










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