Inflorescence of red larkspur

Red Larkspur

Larkspur flowers waiting for hummingbirds

Red larkspur is a perennial typically growing in moist soil on wooded rocky slopes of the Coastal Ranges and northern Sierra Nevada. The flower above was found along North Peak Trail at a point where the narrow path cuts through thick vegetation, east of the Mount Diablo Summit.

The larkspur flowers are hermaphrodite. The vibrant red flowers attract hummingbirds as primary pollinators.

My Field Guide to Wildflowers, Western Region by Richard Spellenberg (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2001; page 712) describes red larkspur (Delphinium nudicaule) as a plant smaller than scarlet larkspur (D. cardinale), “rarely more than 4' (1.2 m) tall, with not quite as brilliant flowers; its sepals are noticeably forward-pointing, much like a half-opened bud of scarlet larkspur. This flower shape gave D. nudicaule another common name used long ago, Christmas Horns.” Yet other names are orange larkspur, canyon larkspur and canyon delphinium.

At the Junction Ranger Station you will find a poster, displayed above the front bench, featuring native plants including red larkspur and other local flowering plants such as blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum), Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla), globe lily (Calochortus pulchellus) and miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata).
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Mount Diablo & Red Larkspur