Delphinium elatum - Bee Larkspur

Common Name: Bee Larkspur

Scientific Name: Delphinium elatum

Description: Herbaceous summer-flowering perennial or biennial; richly-colored, bluish-purple flowers form on rigid stalks

Size: Grows 4 to 6 feet high

Cultural Information: Prefers sun to partial shade and rich, well-drained loam and benefits from mulch

USDA Zones: 2 through 7

Historical Notes: Bee Larkspur, a native of Western Europe, Russia, and East Asia and one of the chief parents of our modern Delphinium cultivars, has been cultivated in English gardens since 1578. An early American citation of this species is found in Bernard McMahon's 1806 edition of The American Gardener's Calendar.[1] It was more widely used in the perennial flower border by the end of the 19th century, and in 1918 Louise Beebe Wilder remarked on the flower's grace. In 1811 Jefferson planted "American Larkspur, Delphinium exaltatum," a native North American species.[2] L. H. Bailey commented in 1906 that he believed the two species were often confused in the trade. The "bee" of the Delphinium refers to the shape of the petals in the throat of the flower.

- Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants

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