Larkspur has bilaterally symmetrical flowers
with numerous stamens. There are 3 to 10 blue-purple flowers about
1/2 to 3/4 inches long. Sepals as well as petals are colored, upper sepal
prolonged into a slender, tubular spur that protrudes sidewise from the flower.
The plant is 6-24 inches tall, generally with unbranched stem and grows from
fascicle of fleshy, tuber like roots. Each flower produces three to five,
many-seeded, pod-like fruits called follicles. It is found from moist mountain
meadows and open forests to dry sandy sagebrush plains. The Low Larkspur varies
from other larkspur in many ways: the normally blue to purple sepals vary to
nearly white; the roots may be rather thin and woody, thick and fleshy, or
intermediate; the upper part fo the stem and the flowers are usually hairy, the
nature of which varies from sparse to dense and matted or even glandular
sticky. It grows throughout the steppe and flowers April through July.
The Larkspur is poisonous. It contains alkaloids plus other toxin that are harmful to humans and poisonous to livestock. The flowers are harmless to hold, but violently poisonous if eaten.
Value to Wildlife:
upland game birds, non-game birds, and small mammals. Early in the spring low larkspur is high in protein (12-20%)however, protein and energy value quickly drop thereafter. Low larkspur is toxic to cattle and causes some losses in spring and early summer because it reaches a height where it can be grazed before most grasses. If low larkspur occurs in large patches, animals can easily consume lethal amounts of the plant.
Prefers a rich well-drained soil and not a water-logged soils. Requires an open sunny position. May inhibit the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes. Cuttings of basal shoots should be taken in April/May, before they become hollow at the base, and planted in a cold frame. Divide in spring or early autumn.
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