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Delphinium cardinale (Scarlet larkspur)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Delphinium cardinale

Delphinium cardinale Hook.

Scarlet Larkspur

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)


USDA Symbol: DECA2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Known for its showy flower clusters, scarlet larkspur is a 3-5 ft., branched or unbranched perennial with finely dissected basal and stem leaves. A loose spire of brilliant red, bilaterally symmetrical flowers atop a tall stem with palmately lobed leaves near base. Long-spurred flowers occur in open clusters up to 2 ft. in length. Their showy sepals are brilliant red while the pea-like flowers are yellow with scarlet tips.

The species name refers to the vibrant red of the flower, like the red of a cardinal's robe. Masses on a slope have been likened to a hill on fire. The red flower attracts hummingbirds as the primary pollinators. Red Larkspur (D. nudicaule), also known as Orange Larkspur, is a smaller plant, rarely more than 4 ft (1.2 m) tall, with not quite as brilliant flowers; its sepals are noticeably forward-pointing, much like a half-opened bud of Scarlet Larkspur. This flower shape gave D. nudicaule another common name used long ago, Christmas Horns; it grows from central California to southern Oregon.


From the Image Gallery

3 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul


Native Distribution: Monterey to San Diego Cos., CA
Native Habitat: Hot, dry openings in brush & woods below 5000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Dry, rocky soils.


Description: Sow seed.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary although 1/2-1 mont stratification or germination in darkness may improve results.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Additional resources

USDA: Find Delphinium cardinale in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Delphinium cardinale in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Delphinium cardinale


Record Modified: 2010-06-11
Research By: TWC Staff

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