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Delphinium nuttallianum (Twolobe larkspur)
Cressler, Alan

Delphinium nuttallianum

Delphinium nuttallianum Pritz. ex Walp.

Twolobe Larkspur, Two-lobe Larkspur, Delphinium

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Synonym(s): Delphinium nelsonii, Delphinium nelsonii ssp. utahense, Delphinium nuttallianum var. fulvum, Delphinium nuttallianum var. levicaule, Delphinium sonnei

USDA Symbol: DENU2

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

An extremely variable delphinium over its wide range. Stems are usually single, 6-30 in. tall and generally unbranched. Leaves are few and mostly basal, 2-4 times lobed into linear segments. Generally only 1 stem with a few leaves, mostly at base, and blue or blue-violet bilateral flowers in one or several open racemes. The flowering spikes are loosely flowered and ascending with white to grayish-blue to deep blue-purple, spurred flowers. The degree of pubescence is the most notable distinction among varieties.

Representative of a host of low larkspur species with blue or blue-violet flowers occurring in many habitats, from dry California grasslands and chaparral to southwestern deserts and high mountaintops. They are difficult to distinguish, and in the West are second only to locoweeds (Astragalus and Oxytropis) as a livestock poison, especially among cattle.


From the Image Gallery

17 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Follicle
Size Notes: Up to about 30 inches tall.

Bloom Information

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


USA: AZ , CA , CO , ID , MT , NE , NM , NV , OR , SD , UT , WA , WY
Canada: BC
Native Distribution: S.w. B.C., s., in the Cascade foothills, to CA, e. to Alt., SD, NE, CO & AZ
Native Habitat: Dry foothills, valleys & sagebrush deserts

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Dry, well-drained soils.


Use Wildlife: Hummingbirds
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. POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Highly Toxic; May be Fatal if eaten. Symptoms include burning of lips and mouth, numbness of throat; intense vomiting and diarrhea, muscular weakness and spasms, weak pulse, paralysis of the respiratory system, convulsions. Toxic Principle: Alkaloids delphinine, ajacine, and others. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Attracts: Hummingbirds


Description: Sow fresh seeds in fall for outdoor stratification.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

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

Mr. Smarty Plants says

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National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

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

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


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

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