Dwarf Larkspur

Photo of dwarf larkspur flowers with leaf
Safety Concerns
Scientific Name
Delphinium tricorne
Ranunculaceae (crowfoots)

A single-stemmed herbaceous perennial with an upright flower stalk bearing racemes of bluish-purple flowers. Flowers irregular, with 5 showy, petal-like sepals; the true petals are reduced to inconsequential appendages. One sepal extends backward, forming a long spur. There may be few to many flowers, terminal along a raceme, in shades of blue, violet, white, and mixtures of these. Blooms April–June. Leaves few, shaped like an outstretched hand, deeply divided into linear segments.

Similar species: There are 4 species of Delphinium recorded for Missouri.


Height: 6–10 inches; may reach to 18 inches later.

Where To Find
image of Dwarf Larkspur distribution map


Occurs in open wooded slopes, ledges, valleys, ravines, streamsides, and below bluffs.

“Delphinium,” the genus name, is from the Greek word for “dolphin,” describing the curving shape of the flower spurs. “Tricorne,” the species epithet, is from Latin and means “with three horns,” and describes the shape of the fruit.

Larkspurs, as a group, are toxic to eat, and cattle are frequently poisoned by them, especially in spring when the plants are most actively growing and most toxic. Some larkspurs are popular garden plants, and this species is one that can be cultivated.

Bumblebees drill holes into the spurs to collect nectar; bees pollinate the flowers. Other visitors include butterflies, skippers, moths, flies, and hummingbirds. Moth larvae and leaf miners eat the leaves, and aphids suck the sap. The foliage is toxic to mammals, which avoid it.

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Similar Species
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!