Delphinium luteum

Another entry from Taisha today, who writes:

Delphinium luteum, known commonly as the yellow larkspur, is photographed here accompanied by an Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna). This capture was submitted to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool by frequent contributor Sandy Steinman@Flickr. This photo was taken on April 11 in Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley California. Thanks for sharing, Sandy!

A member of the Ranunculaceae, Delphinium luteum is, like many members of the family, an herbaceous perennial. In the wild, the species is found on steep, rocky outcrops within the coastal sage scrub plant community of Sonoma and Marin Counties. This species has fleshy basal leaves and cornucopia-shaped yellow flowers; these have a posterior sepal elongated into a spur. Plants bloom from March through May, and the flowers are pollinated by visiting hummingbirds. Despite being self-compatible, seed set is much higher when outcrossing occurs.

Delphinium luteum exists naturally in fewer than a dozen populations, including some located on the privately-owned Larkspur Hill and Larkspur Rock. Delphinium luteum is listed by the US Endangered Species Act as endangered, with a similar status at the state level (Delphinium luteum on the CNPS Inventory). The yellow larkspur is threatened due to rock quarrying activities, overcollection, residential development, and sheep grazing. Fortunately, Delphinium luteum is easily grown in cultivation, with ex situ populations maintained by the University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley and the California Native Plant Society (in at least a couple sites as of 2002).

Delphinium luteum

5 responses to “Delphinium luteum”

  1. Sue Vargas

    Fabulous Spring Photo! We are awaiting the arrival of hummers here in Michigan after our long, cold winter.

  2. Peony Fan

    Gorgeous photo, especially the way the patches of color on the back of the hummingbird echo the yellow tones of the larkspur. Good to know that this endangered plant is in cultivation.

  3. gerald sundberg

    Are seeds available?

  4. Melissa in South Carolina

    Just GORGEOUS! Delphinium AND Hummingbird. What an image to share!

  5. Daniel Mosquin

    Gerald, maybe through the gardens where it is grown. I’m fairly certain that with an endangered species designation, any retail seeds need to be from a cultivated source.

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