Delphinium Plants in California

California hosts a wide variety of delphinium species. The majority prefer the dry summer conditions common to many parts of the state. A handful need the cool, moister climate of the coastal mountain regions. The common name for delphinium is larkspur. It is used often when referring to native delphinium species.

Sierra Larkspur

The Sierra larkspur (Delphinium glaucum) is among the taller delphiniums, ranging from 2 to 6 feet tall. The largest groupings of this flower are found in the Sierra Nevada foothills. They can also be found growing in smaller populations in the northern and southern portions of the state. The flowers are purple with a darker purple eye.

Scarlet Larkspur

Scarlet larkspur (Delphinium cardinale) can be found from the Central to Southern coastal mountain regions of California. The flower spikes are 3 to 6 feet tall. The bright red flowers have yellow centers. This plant is a major attraction for area hummingbirds. Scarlet larkspur blooms in summer rather than the typical spring time period. Also found in woodland areas of this same region is the red larkspur (Delphinium nudicaule). Though this is also a showy red to orange flower, it is a much smaller 1 to 3 foot plant. Unlike scarlet larkspur the red larkspur cross pollinates with other species such as (Delphinium luteum). Because of this it can also have yellow to orange coloration.

San Bernadino Larkspur

The perennial San Bernadino larkspur (Delphinium parryi) is scarcely found outside of California. It grows among the scrub and grasslands in the pine and oak woodland areas. Though a typical purple color, this one also has attractive white eyes. A variation of this plant (Delphinium parryi blochmaniae) found in the California coastal dunes is on the rare and endangered species list.

Baker's Larkspur

Baker's larkspur (Delphinium bakeri) is an endangered species. The only known patch in existence is in Marin County, Ca. Because of this, the area is restricted. The flowers are a vibrant blue color with white eyes. A very similar looking Larkspur (Delphinium trollifolium) can be found in the northern portion of the state.

California Larkspur

This larkspur grows in open woodlands in the San Francisco Bay Area. California larkspur (Delphinium californicum) is another rare flower. The blooms can vary from white petals with pale lavender eyes, to lavender with green tones. It is a tall plant reaching up 5 feet tall.

Yellow Larkspur

The yellow larkspur (Delphinium luteum) can only be found in Marin and Sonoma Counties. It is distinct in that it is an uncommon yellow color. Even the larkspurs that have yellow coloration do not match this one in vibrancy. There is no other larkspur like It and is yet another endangered delphinium.

Sky Blue Larkspur

A much lighter blue larkspur (Delphinium parishii) is found in the Southern portion of California. It is a drought-tolerant desert plant. The foliage is a silvery gray instead of the usual green. It can vary in height but is generally a taller delphinium.

Keywords: clumping perennial, annual flower, area hummingbird, endangered species

About this Author

Marci Degman has been a Landscape Designer and Horticulture writer for since 1997. She has an Associate of Applied Science in landscape technology and landscape design from Portland Community College. She writes a newspaper column for the Hillsboro Argus and radio tips for KUIK. Her teaching experience for Portland Community College has set the pace for her to write for GardenGuides.com.