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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)
State Threat Score: No Known Threats
C-value: 6

Agency Status


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 et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX)

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

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


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 et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX)

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 20

(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 et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

The following animal species have been reported as pollinators of this plant species or its genus where their geographic ranges overlap: Bombus vagans, Bombus appositus, Bombus auricomus, Bombus borealis, Bombus centralis, Bombus fervidus, Bombus flavifrons, Bombus mixtus, Bombus occidentalis, Bombus pensylvanicus, Bombus griseocollis, Bombus impatiens, and Bombus kirbiellus (Plath 1934, Macior 1974, Bauer 1983, Thorp et al. 1983, Wilson et al. 2010, Colla and Dumesh 2010, Koch et al. 2012, Pyke et al. 2012, Miller-Struttmann and Galen 2014, Williams et al. 2014).

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 et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX)

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

Threats or Limiting Factors
Threat impact not assigned because threats are not known (MTNHP Threat Assessment 2021).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Bauer, P.J. 1983. Bumblebee pollination relationships on the Beartooth Plateau tundra of Southern Montana. American Journal of Botany. 70(1): 134-144.
    • Colla, S.R. and S. Dumesh. 2010. The bumble bees of southern Ontario: notes on natural history and distribution. Journal of the Entomological Society of Ontario 141:39-68.
    • 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.
    • Koch, J., J. Strange, and P. Williams. 2012. Bumble bees of the western United States. Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service, Pollinator Partnership. 143 p.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Macior, L.M. 1974. Pollination ecology of the Front Range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Melanderia 15: 1-59.
    • Miller-Struttmann, N.E. and C. Galen. 2014. High-altitude multi-taskers: bumble bee food plant use broadens along an altitudinal productivity gradient. Oecologia 176:1033-1045.
    • Plath, O.E. 1934. Bumblebees and their ways. New York, NY: Macmillan Company. 201 p.
    • Pyke, G.H., D.W. Inouye, and J.D. Thomson. 2012. Local geographic distributions of bumble bees near Crested Butte, Colorado: competition and community structure revisited. Environmental Entomology 41(6): 1332-1349.
    • Thorp, R.W., D.S. Horning, and L.L. Dunning. 1983. Bumble bees and cuckoo bumble bees of California (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Bulletin of the California Insect Survey 23:1-79.
    • Williams, P., R. Thorp, L. Richardson, and S. Colla. 2014. Bumble Bees of North America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 208 p.
    • Wilson, J.S., L.E. Wilson, L.D. Loftis, and T. Griswold. 2010. The montane bee fauna of north central Washington, USA, with floral associations. Western North American Naturalist 70(2): 198-207.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Aho, Ken Andrew. 2006. Alpine and Cliff Ecosystems in the North-Central Rocky Mountains. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 343 p.
    • Culver, D.R. 1994. Floristic analysis of the Centennial Region, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 199 pp.
    • 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.
    • Williams, K.L. 2012. Classification of the grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, forests and alpine vegetation associations of the Custer National Forest portion of the Beartooth Mountains in southcentral Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 376 p.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Pale Larkspur"
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Citation for data on this website:
Pale Larkspur — Delphinium glaucum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from