Delphinium scopulorum (Set 1)

Rocky Mountain Larkspur - Delphinium scopulorum
Scenic Trail 796 - Kingston Cemetery to Emory Pass
Black Range, New Mexico, USA

Rocky Mountain Larkspur, Delphinium scopulorum, is very noticeable at middle and higher elevations in the Black Range.  It has a range restricted to southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico in the United States and the adjoining areas in Sonora, Mexico.  It was first described by Asa Gray, who I have discussed in previous posts, in 1853.  A nice description of the species can be found at the Flora of North America site.  A number of subspecies have been described.

Synonyms include Delphinium macrophyllum which was described by Elmer Ottis Wooton based on a specimen he collected on Hillsboro Peak (image right).  Wooton studied the flora of New Mexico extensively, collecting more than 5,000 plants which he added to the New Mexico State University herbarium which he started in 1890.  A different Larkspur, Organ Mountain Larkspur, Delphinium wootonii, is named in his honor (as well as a number of other plant species).

Speciation determinations in the genus Delphinium have been extensive and changing.  That unsettled history leads to misstatements in some references - statements which may lead to some insight.  For instance, the Wikipedia entry (10/15/2014) for this species notes the range described above and then goes on to note that many Canadian ranchers wait until late summer to move their cattle to higher elevations because of the toxicity of this species.  Other than the fact that current speciation determinations for this species do not include a range in the “western prairies of Canada” the caution about toxicity is interesting and perhaps true of the genus - and thus the subject species of this post.  The Wikipedia article goes on to note that death can occur with a few hours of eating the plant and is caused by “neuromuscular blocking” and “cardiotoxic” effects of the toxin (alkaloids).

 


  

Carbonate Creek, Black Range
Immediately above and all below

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© Robert Barnes 2018