Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - July 26, 2014

From: Missoula, MT
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Larkspur with pink and white flowers
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi - I have been photographing larkspurs (mainly D. bicolor) in Montana for years now and I found one that I can't identify. The leaves and flower structure all appear to be D. bicolor, but the flowers are pink with white petals in the center, not purple/blue with white. Is this just a color variation? I haven't found any photos showing this variation in wild larkspurs or any mention of it in my plant guides or websites. Thanks!

ANSWER:

There are five species of native Delphiniums that occur in Montana:

Delphinium ajacis [synonym = Consolida ajacis] (Rocket larkspur), a European native and a cultivated species sold for flower gardens that now occurs over a large portion of North America, including Montana, can be found in a variety of colors—purple, light and dark blue, light and dark pink, and white.  It is possible that you might have found one of these non-natives, but I am inclined to believe that you found a color variant of one of the natives.

Here are descriptions of several of the species above from eFloras.org, Flora of North America online, that might help you determine which native species it was:

D. bicolor, D. depauperatum, D. glaucum, D. nuttallianum,

D. nuttallianum lists the flower colors as:  "Flowers: sepals usually bluish purple, rarely white to pink,..."  All the others list the sepals as blue or bluish purple.  However, with colors of flowers, mutations to the enzymes in the pigment formation pathways can happen that would alter the color of the flowers.  i wouldn't be surprised to occasionally find pink and white blooms on any of the Delphinium species listed above.

 

From the Image Gallery


Little larkspur
Delphinium bicolor

Slim larkspur
Delphinium depauperatum

Sierra larkspur
Delphinium glaucum

Twolobe larkspur
Delphinium nuttallianum

Duncecap larkspur
Delphinium ×occidentale

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification--vine with spiny pods in California
July 05, 2010 - I came across a vine while hiking in Orange County, CA. It didn't have flowers on it but has 3 or 4 inch spiny pods. What is it? The vine itself looks similar to a Morning Glory vine.
view the full question and answer

Grapevine at the Wildflower Center
November 05, 2013 - Hello :) I recently visited the Lady Bird Wildflower Center for Goblins in the Garden. I'm curious if you all know exactly what type of grape is growing in the back of the garden near the "Heali...
view the full question and answer

Identification of three-petaled lilac colored flower in Texas
April 30, 2013 - I found a single bloom. It has three petals, lilac colored with white spots toward the center with purple dots. The stamens are a greenish color. Bloom has an iris appearance. Can't find it in my...
view the full question and answer

Possible gourd vine growing in backyard in Camden, TN.
July 17, 2012 - I have a long green vine growing in my backyard. It's got green bulbs the size of kiwi on it and they're filled with white seeds. I would appreciate it if you guys could tell me what it is! Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant with red beans Catalina Mts., Arizona
February 05, 2013 - While hiking at the base of the Catalina Mts. near Tucson in Jan., I came across a plant, the pods of which were open, displaying a bright red bean. I took some of the beans to plant in my yard. I was...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.