Delphinium alpestre (Alpine Larkspur)

Delphinium alpestre (Alpine Larkspur)

Photograph by Panayoti Kelaidis at (2010)
Scientific Name with Author
Delphinium alpestre Rydberg
Common Name
Alpine Larkspur
Rare Plant Conservation Scorecard Summary
Overall Conservation Status Documented Threats Actions Needed

Livestock ranching/farming

document rarity

County Map
Perennial herb 5-25 cm tall; leaves all on stem, but crowded near base, petioles 1-10 cm long, blades 2-5 cm long and about as wide, palmately divided into 5 main lobes, each lobe further dissected into smaller lobes; inflorescence a raceme of 2-8 flowers; sepals dull blue or dull blue tinged with brown, especially on the back, spreading or forward-pointing, 11-14 mm long, the upper sepal extended basally into a spur 8-12 mm long; lower petal blades cleft, 4-6 mm long. Flowers July to September.
Similar Species
Our other montane larkspur species are usually much taller. Delphinium ramosum is morphologically very similar, but is a taller plant (> 50 cm) and occurs at somewhat lower elevations.
New Mexico, Taos County, Sangre de Cristo Mountains; adjacent south-central Colorado.
Alpine tundra and open meadows in subalpine coniferous forest; 3,500-3,950 m (11,500-13,000 ft).
This is our smallest high-elevation larkspur species. Some botanists believe it to be only a high elevation form of Delphinium ramosum.
Conservation Considerations
The remote and relatively inaccessible habitats of this species provide it with a large degree of protection from land use impacts. Some species of Delphinium are poisonous to cattle, so the genus as a whole is sometimes targeted for poisonous weed control.
Important Literature

*New Mexico Native Plants Protection Advisory Committee. 1984. A handbook of rare and endemic plants of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Warnock, M.J. 1997. Delphinium, pp. 196-240 In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (eds.). Flora of North America, Magnoliophyta: Magnoliidae and Hamamelidae, Vol. 3. Oxford University Press, New York, New York.

Information Compiled By
Robert Sivinski 1999

For distribution maps and more information, visit Natural Heritage New Mexico