Siberian larkspur (Delphinium grandiflorum)

Dmitry Poltavsky - Delphinium grandiflorum

Dmitry Poltavsky - Delphinium grandiflorum

Delphinium is a genus of about 300 species of perennial flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae, native throughout the Northern Hemisphere and also on the high mountains of tropical Africa. The genus was erected by Carl Linnaeus. The genus name Delphinium derives from the Ancient Greek word Delphinion (dolphin), a name used in De Materia Medica for some kind of larkspur. Pedanius Dioscorides said the plant got its name because of its dolphin-shaped flowers. In most species each flower consists of five petal-like sepals which grow together to form a hollow pocket with a spur at the end, which gives the plant its name, usually more or less dark blue. Despite the toxicity, Delphinium species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species. Various delphiniums are cultivated as ornamental plants, for traditional and native plant gardens. All parts of these plants are considered toxic to humans, especially the younger parts, causing severe digestive discomfort if ingested, and skin irritation. All parts of the plant contain various diterpenoid alkaloids, typified by methyllycaconitine, and are very poisonous. The juice of the flowers, mixed with alum, gives a blue ink. Delphinium grandiflorum is a species of Delphinium known by the common names Siberian larkspur and Chinese Delphinium. It is native to Russia and China. Like many other larkspurs, this plant is poisonous. This species is commonly considered to have the most intense blue flowers of all species in its genus, although that depends on the particular variety, the particular plant, the freshness of the blossom, and the growing conditions. In sunlight the flowers can appear to glow or look fluorescent due to the intensity of the blue pigment.