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Montana Field Guides

Pale Larkspur - Delphinium glaucum

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S1?
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 6

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Based on the discrepancy in the number of herbarium specimens identified as Delphinium glaucum (CPNWH 2015) and in its Montana County distribution (Lesica 2012), there seems to be an issue in how to accurately identify this species. Specimens deposited in herbaria outside of Montana will need to be examined before it can be demonstrated that this plant is more widely distributed.
General Description
Plants: Perennial arising from woody roots (Lesica 2012); stems sometimes several, simple beneath the inflorescence (Hitchcock et al. 1964), hollow, glabrous, glaucous, 35–100 cm (Lesica 2012), occasionally up to 300 cm (FNA 1997).

Leaves: Numerous, mainly cauline (Lesica 2012), progressively reduced up the stem (Hitchcock et al. 1964); blades to 20 cm wide (Lesica 2012), deeply lobed into 5(7) divisions, the divisions themselves 2-3 times shallowly toothed or lobed, the basal and lower stem leaf blades smooth to lightly pubescent underneath (Hitchcock et al. 1964).

Inflorescence: A terminal raceme, simple or compound, smooth or lightly hairy (particularly on the pedicels) (Hitchcock et al. 1964), loosely many-flowered, with lower pedicels much longer than flowers (Lesica 2012); bracteoles smooth to minutely hairy, 2-7 mm, linear (FNA 1997).

(Lesica's contribution adapted from Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX.)

Flowers July-August (Hitchcock et al. 1964).

Species Range

Range Comments
Canada: AB, BC, MB, NT, SK, YT; USA: AK, CA, CO, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY (FNA 1997). In MT, known from Mineral County (Lesica 2012).

(Lesica's contribution adapted from Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX.)

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 12

(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)

Open evergreen woods (FNA 1997), wet tall-herb meadows and thickets, often near streams; upper montane, lower subalpine (Lesica 2012) to alpine (Hitchcock et al. 1964).

(Lesica's contribution from Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Reproductive Characteristics
Flowers: Bilaterally symmetric, glabrous to pubescent; sepals 5 in number, the upper sepal long-spurred (Lesica 2012), the lateral sepals bluish purple, spreading or facing forward (FNA 1997); petals 4, the upper petals bluish-white, the lower petals cleft 1–2 mm; stamens numerous (Lesica 2012); pistils 3 (Douglas et al.).

Fruits: An aggregate of follicles ca 10 mm long (Lesica 2012), up to 20 mm, the length 3.5-4.5 times that of the width, glabrous to minutely puberulent (FNA 1997); seeds smooth, shiny brownish-purple, 2.5-2 mm in length, with winged margins (Hitchcock et al. 1964).

(Lesica's contribution adapted from Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX.)

Known to have poisoned livestock (Douglas et al. 1999).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Douglas, G.W., D. Meidinger, and J. Pojar, editors. 1999. The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia. Volume 4. Dicotyledons (Orobanchaceae through Rubiaceae). British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks and British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Victoria.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 1997. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 3. Magnoliophyta: Magnoliidae and Hamamelidae. Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, NY. xxiii + 590 pp.
    • Hitchcock, C. L., A. Cronquist, M. Ownbey, and J. W. Thompson. 1964. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 2: Salicaceae to Saxifragaceae. University of Washington Press, Seattle. 597 pp.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Pale Larkspur — Delphinium glaucum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from