Carolina Larkspur (Prairie Larkspur)

Photo of Carolina larkspur plants with flowers
Safety Concerns
Scientific Name
Delphinium carolinianum
Ranunculaceae (buttercups)

A showy, erect plant to 3 feet tall, with bluish-purple flowers. Blooms May through June. Flowers are irregular and cone-shaped. The 5 sepals are the showy part of the flower, while the petals are reduced to inconsequential appendages. One sepal provides an upturned spur. There are few to many flowers per plant, terminal along a single stem, in deep blue, violet-lavender, purple, or white. Leaves are 3–5, basal, well-spaced on stems, divided into 3–7 very narrow, linear straps. Seeds are in beaked, angular pods (follicles) that form in a cluster of threes, joined at the base.

Height: to 3 feet.
Where To Find
image of Carolina Larkspur Prairie Larkspur distribution map
Along and south of the Missouri River.
Sometimes called prairie larkspur, this plant grows on glades, prairies, fields, rocky slopes, and rights-of-way.
Scattered and locally common in appropriate habitats.
This and other species of larkspurs unfortunately contain an alkaloid that can be seriously toxic to cattle and other mammals. However, American Indians and pioneers made an anti-lice tincture from the plant. Meanwhile, larkspurs are lovely native flowers for a sunny garden.
Bees consume the nectar, and various other insects feed on the vegetation, though mammals generally avoid it. This plant is one in a host of different species that live on native tallgrass prairies, which are defined in part by their great diversity of plant life.
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Where to See Species

In 1996, seven tracts totaling 916 acres were acquired as part of the Emergency Wetland Reserve Program (EWRP), which was initiated after the flood of 1993 which lasted for 175 days.
About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!