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Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens (Carolina larkspur)
Dana, Michael

Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens

Delphinium carolinianum Walter ssp. virescens (Nutt.) R.E. Brooks

Carolina Larkspur, Prairie Larkspur, Plains Larkspur

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Synonym(s): Delphinium albescens, Delphinium carolinianum ssp. penardii, Delphinium penardii, Delphinium virescens, Delphinium virescens ssp. penardii, Delphinium virescens var. macroceratilis, Delphinium virescens var. penardii


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Prairie larkspur is a slender, erect perennial, unbranched or branched near the ground to form a clump 1-3 ft. tall. A terminal spike of white, spurred flowers, tinged purple, is borne well above the mostly basal, deeply cleft leaves.

Mature plants may disappear in hot weather, reappearing when the weather has become cooler.


From the Image Gallery

37 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Follicle
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul


USA: AR , CO , IA , KS , MN , MO , ND , NE , OK , SD , TX , WI
Native Distribution: Alt. to WI, s. to AZ & AL
Native Habitat: Prairies; dry, open woodlands

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Various mesic to dry, limey soils.
Conditions Comments: Mature plants may disappear in hot weather, reappearing when the weather has become cooler.


Use Medicinal: Seeds ground and soaked in alcohol to kill head lice.
Warning: Plants of the genus Delphinium contain toxins, and no parts of them should ever be eaten. They can be fatally poisonous to both humans and animals. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Bumble Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Sow fresh seeds in fall or dry stratifited seed in May. Germination may take months. Adult plants can be divided in spring.
Seed Collection: Collect seed in May.
Seed Treatment: Very slow-growing and vulnerable to damping off. Seed out in Nursery bed, rather than growing in greenhouse.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 1081 Collected May 10, 1996 in Guadalupe County by Elizabeth W. Hughes
NPSOT 0167 Collected Apr. 24, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe

2 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens


Record Modified: 2023-02-06
Research By: TWC Staff

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