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Larkspur Flower Facts and Meaning

Updated on September 13, 2010
Larkspur Flower
Larkspur Flower

Etymology and Introduction

Larkspur is a member of the delphinium family and a fast-growing garden favorite. Derived from the word of Greek "delphis", meaning dolphin. Other names include Lark's Claw, Lark's Heel and Knight's Spur. Delphinium (its scientific name) refers to the shape of the bud that look like a fat dolphin. The plant can be found blooming starting in late spring and continuing through late summer, the plants are being pollinated by bumble bees and butterflies.

There are more than 150 species of larkspur can be found growing wild in any parts of the world where the climate is mild. There are over 1,000 cultivated varieties. The most sought varieties of the flowers are rather closely packed on tall spikes with a height of about five to six feet. Larkspur is very easily cultivated. Larkspur plants grow best in deep, rich loam soil and in places well exposed to the sun.

Appearance and Characteristics

The colorful larkspur blooms cover a spectrum from violet to blue to white. Foliage is lacy and dark green. The flowers of larkspur are shaped irregularly and bloom in a vertical grouping along the upper end of the main stalk. It is a very complex flower consisting of both sepals and petals. Its flower each is made from a single or double row of bright colored sepals, the common color is blue but pink, purple, scarlet, white and yellow also occur. The alluring flower shape, the appealing foliage and its wide range of colors combine to make the flower a popular, marketable cut flower.

Larkspurs are generally considered garden plants. It is also important to note that the larkspur plant is toxic. Its seeds and stem contain alkaloids, therefore it can be poisonous to some animals and can cause death if eaten in large amounts. Larkspur grow to their full potential in climates with cool and moist summers. They are annuals and also highly susceptible to frost, therefore sow the seed after the frost. Used to make blue dye by Native Americans and European settlers, it's believed that the most ancient use of the flowers was for driving away scorpions.

Varieties

Larkspur with tall spikes, make excellent cutflowers. Consolida orientalis and Consolida ambigua are two varieties of larkspur that are ideal as cut flowers. Consolida orientalis is more upright than consolida ambigua, and colors are often shades of purple and bright pink. Consolida ambigua have more branches initially and usually the colors are blue or light pink. The larkspur roses (consolida ambigua) have tall spires of rose colored flowers. Its colored flowers (1/4 - ½ inch) are densely packed on tall stems. Larkspur of a perennial form which has similar requirements of growing is a delphinium elatum. Delphinium ajacis is the annual larkspur species that is most commonly grown.

Larkspur Meaning and Uses

These lush, dolphin-shaped flowers are the july birth flower and it symbolizes an open heart and ardent attachment. White generally signifies a happy-go-lucky nature, pink represents fickleness, while purple is often indicative of sweet disposition and first love. Larkspur symbolized a desire for laughter and a pure heart in the Victorian language of flowers. In mythology of Greek, the flowers of larkspur are said to have sprang from the blood of Ajax, a figure in Greek mythology. A red flower supposedly emerged from his blood after he killed himself.

Larkspur is also said to keep away venomous snakes and scorpions as well as more ethereal threats, like ghosts. It is nice mixed with other summer solstice herbs like roses, lavender, mugwort, cinquefoil, fennel, elder, vervain and hemp in pot pourri or incense. The plants are often used for fillers in bouquets, borders in gardens and they look lovely in dried flower arrangements.

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