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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Meadow Larkspur - Delphinium burkei
Other Names:  [including] Delphinium distichum

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G4
State Rank: S1S2
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Only known from a few collections from the western half of the state.
General Description
Meadow larkspur is a perennial herb with non-hollow stems, 4-7 dm (16-28 in) high, from a cluster of short, tuberous roots. The long-stalked basal leaves, 4-6 cm (ca. 2 in) wide, are hemispheric in outline and twice divided like the fingers on a hand into broad, rounded lobes. The numerous leaves of the upper stem are once deeply divided into linear segments. Foliage is covered with fine, short, white hairs. Flowers are well separated in a spike at the top of the stem; lower flowers are stalked, while the upper are not. Each flower has 5 blue petal-like sepals, 7-9 mm long, projecting forward. The upper one has a conical spur, 11-17 mm long, projecting back. The 2 lower petals are blue and longer than the sepals, while the 2 upper petals are white and shorter. The fruit is an erect, hairy, oblong, 3-lobed capsule, 8-12 mm long.

Flowering in July.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Easily confused with D. depauperatum, which is usually shorter, less hairy, with fewer, but larger flowers and sepals usually darker. Also, D. depauperatum has fewer stem leaves. Leaf dimorphy is also expressed in D. depauperatum, just to a lesser degree. The leaves of D. depauperatum are usually less deeply divided or have broader leaf lobes. Both grow in moist meadows, but D. burkei tends to prefer meadows that fully desiccate in summer.

Species Range

Range Comments
BC to OR, east to ID, and MT (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 9

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Moist meadows in the valley and lower montane zone. Usually where soils are saturated in spring, desiccated in summer.

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Ewan, J. 1945. A synopsis of the North American species of Delphinium. University of Colorado Studies 2(2):55-242.
    • Lesica, P., M. T. Lavin, and P. F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Taylor, R.J. 1960. The genus Delphinium in Wyoming. University of Wyoming publications 24:9-21.
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Citation for data on this website:
Meadow Larkspur — Delphinium burkei.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from