South Dakota Native Plant Research
Ranunculaceae : Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens

Ranunculaceae : Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens


Download Seed: The seeds of prairie larkspur are scaly. (80 KB)

Download Seedling: Prairie larkspur seedling two months after germinating. (71 KB)

Download Mature plant (262 KB)

Download Vegetative: The leaves of prairie larkspur are both basal and stem-borne. (405 KB)

Download Flowering: The flowers make up an inflorescence borne on a spikelike raceme. (523 KB)

Download Fruit (810 KB)

Family Name


Common Name

Prairie larkspur

Native American Name

Lakota: wanáǧi thíŋpsila


Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens is a perennial herb growing from a fibrous to tuberous root system, with sturdy erect, occasionally branched stems, 25-120 cm tall, usually with simple and glandular hairs throughout. There are both basal and alternate cauline leaves, palmately compound, 7-8 cm long, deeply divided into 5 or more primary sections, each with several linear lobes. The basal leaves have long petioles and are usually gone by flowering, and the cauline leave are smaller with shorter petioles. The inflorescence is a spike-like raceme with 5- 30 zygomorphic flowers. There are 5 white sepals, the uppermost having a spur, 11-20 mm long and the lowest pair 7-16 mm long. the 4 petals are white, the upper pair spurred and the lower pair, cleft, bearded, 4-8 mm long and 3-6 mm wide. There are numerous stamens and 3 carpels. The fruit are 3 divergent follicles about 20 mm long. Prairie larkspur blooms in May and June on prairies and pastures throughout South Dakota.

Synonym: Delphinium virescens

Additional Notes

Prairie larkspur is a dramatic addition to a native plant garden. The plants are tall and stately, with most of the foliage toward the base and the showy white flowers rising above, attracting hummingbirds and bees. The plants are toxic to mammals, so a location where children and animals are not likely to get into them is recommended.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: The follicles turn brown and begin to open in June and July. Collect the plant tops and shake out the seeds.

Germination: The seeds need a 60-day cold moist treatment for spring planting or can be fall sown.

Vegetative propagation: Large plants can be divided in the fall.

Soils: Best in well drained, organically rich soil.

Light: Full sun.

Water: Medium to dry.

Ranunculaceae : Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens