Delphinium, commonly known as larkspur, is a genus of perennial flowering plants that belongs to the family Ranunculaceae. These plants are native to the northern hemisphere, and they are known for their tall and striking spikes of flowers. Delphiniums are often used in gardens as cut flowers, and in floral arrangements.
The name “delphinium” is derived from the Greek word “delphis,” which means dolphin, and refers to the shape of the flower buds, which resemble the nose of a dolphin. There are over 300 species of delphiniums, ranging in size from dwarf plants that are less than a foot tall to towering giants that can reach up to six feet.
Delphiniums prefer well-drained soil and full sun or partial shade. They are also relatively drought-tolerant and can handle a wide range of temperatures, although they may require protection from high winds. Delphiniums benefit from regular fertilization and deadheading to promote continued blooming throughout the season. Taller varieties often need support, such as staking or caging, to prevent the plants from toppling over in strong winds or heavy rain.
One of the most striking features of delphiniums is their tall spikes of
flowers, which range from six inches to six feet in height. The flowers bloom in shades of blue, purple, or pink and comprise five petal-like sepals and a central column of stamens. Some varieties also have a distinctive white “bee” or “eye” in the center of each flower, which adds to their visual appeal.
Delphiniums are toxic and should not be consumed. All parts of the plant contain toxic alkaloids that can cause severe gastrointestinal upset, seizures, and even death if ingested in large quantities. It is also important to wear gloves when handling the plant, as the sap can cause skin irritation.
Despite their toxicity, delphiniums remain a popular garden plant, and breeders have developed a wide range of cultivars with different flower colors, shapes, and sizes. Some popular varieties include the Pacific Giant series, which features tall spikes of flowers in shades of blue, pink, and white, and the Magic Fountains series, which has shorter, more compact plants with flowers in shades of pink, blue, and lavender.