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Montana Field Guides

Nuttall's Larkspur - Delphinium nuttallianum
Other Names:  [including] Delphinium sutherlandii

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3S4

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 4

External Links

General Description
Stems glabrous to hairy, 15–60 cm from tuber-like roots. Leaves few, mostly on lower stem; blades 2–9 cm wide; ultimate lobes to 6 mm wide. Inflorescence 4- to 18-flowered; lower flowers shorter than pedicels. Flowers with spreading, deep blue sepals 10–15 mm long; the lower ones longer; petals white to sometimes bluish; the lower blades cleft 1/4 to 1/2-way to base. Fruits 10–18 mm, hairy (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Delphinium sutherlandii has been segragated from D. nuttallianum based mainly on characters of the lower lip petal, which appear to be continuous in our material. Hitchcock recognized D. nuttallianum var. fulvum which appears to correspond to Warnock's D. sutherlandii, but stated that it intergrades with typical D. nuttallianum. Recognition at the species level does not seem warranted at this time.

Delphinium nuttallianum, Nuttall’s Larkspur, is frequently confused with D. depauperatum, Slim Larkspur. Nuttall’s Larkspur, however, has pyramidal inflorescences, lower flowers shorter than their stalks (Lesica 2012), spreading fruits, and ringed seeds (FNA 1997). This contrasts with the cylindric inflorescences, lower flowers the same length or longer than their stalks (Lesica 2012), upright fruits, and winged seeds of Slim Larkspur (FNA 1997).

Species Range

Range Comments
BC, AB south to CA, AZ, CO, and NE (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 18

(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)

Vernally moist, sometimes shallow soil of meadows, grasslands, rock outcrops, open forest; valleys to alpine (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • King, C. R. 1953. The Ranunculaceae of Montana. M.S. Thesis, Bozeman, MT: Montana State College. 82 p.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Sawyer, P.T. 1967. Biosystematic studies of species of delphinium occurring in Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 56 p.
    • Sawyer, P.T. 1970. Systematic studies of non-fistulose delphinium taxa common to Montana. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 84 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Nuttall's Larkspur — Delphinium nuttallianum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from