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Delphinium exaltatum

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
del-FIN-ee-um eks-all-TAY-tum
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Tall larkspur is a herbaceous perennial in the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family that is native to the central and eastern USA. In NC it is found mostly in the mountains in clearings or the edge of woodlands. The genus name Delphinium comes from the Greek word delphis or dolphin a nod to the shape of the flower bud and the species name exaltatum means tall. The common name larkspur references the shape of one of the back petals of the flower, an elongated nectary, resembling the shape of a lark's claw.

This plant grows up to 6 feet tall and grows from rhizomes. It prefers cool summers and doesn't do well in high humidity. Plant in fertile moist well-drained soils in full sun. It locations with hot summers, it appreciates some afternoon shade.

The tall flowering stem has many blue to purple and occasionally white flowers in clusters from July to Sept. that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.  This delphinium blooms later and has more lush foliage than other members of the genus.

Use in a cottage garden, borders or native gardens. Looks great in groups or mass planted. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Problems: Slugs and snails, aphids, leafminers, stem borers, and spider mites are occasional insect pests. Diseases are powdery mildew, botrytis blight, leaf spots, and crown rot.  Staking may be required for taller plants. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#hummingbirds#poisonous#white flowers#purple flowers#native perennials#blue flowers#slopes#cottage garden#mass planting#NC native#border planting#cutting garden#pollinator plant#wildflower garden#naturalized area#border middle#small group plantings#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#meadows#woodland garden
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#hummingbirds#poisonous#white flowers#purple flowers#native perennials#blue flowers#slopes#cottage garden#mass planting#NC native#border planting#cutting garden#pollinator plant#wildflower garden#naturalized area#border middle#small group plantings#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#meadows#woodland garden
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Delphinium
    Species:
    exaltatum
    Family:
    Ranunculaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North Central & Eastern Central U.S.A
    Distribution:
    AL , KY , MD , ME , MO , NC , OH , PA , TN , VA , WV
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds
    Edibility:
    Poisonous
    Dimensions:
    Height: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Follicle
    Fruit Description:
    3-sectioned follicle containing numerous dark brown seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Colored Sepals
    Flower Description:
    Dense, narrow cluster of numerous lavender-blue flowers and occasionally white flowers on the terminal stem. 5 petal-like sepals with one curved backward to create a spur and 4 smaller petals. The 2 lower petals may have whitish hairs. Blooms July to Sept.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Rhomboidal
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    The lower stem leaves are on long stalks and divided into 5 parts, with each part having 3 to 7 lobes. These leaves are roundish in shape. The mid-stem leaves have fewer lobes and shorter stalks. There are no leaves in the upper 1/5 of the stem.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Round, somewhat fleshy, green stems with hairs. May require staking.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Rabbits
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    Burning of lips and mouth, numbness of throat; intense vomiting and diarrhea, muscular weakness and spasms, weak pulse, paralysis of the respiratory system, convulsions; may be fatal if eaten. Unless there is a lack of suitable forage, horses typically do not consume toxic amounts of larkspur. The toxicity of the plant may vary depending on seasonal changes and field conditions; as the plant matures, it generally becomes less toxic. Clinical effects include constipation, colic, increased salivation, stiffness, weakness, recumbency, and convulsions. Cardiac failure may occur, as can death from respiratory paralysis.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Alkaloids delphinine, ajacine, and others.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Flowers
    Leaves
    Seeds
    Stems