Delphinium L. Larkspur

Mostly annual herbs having much divided leaves with narrow segments. Sepals 5, coloured and spurred. Petals lengthened into a spur. Carpels 1-5 each with several seeds.

A considerable genus, widely spread over the northern hemisphere without the tropics.

The two following sub-alpine species are perennials and deserve to be more cultivated in gardens.

Delphinium Fissum Waldst. And Kit

Glabrous or hairy, sometimes a yard high, robust. Leaves cut into 5-7 linear lobes, trifid, incised-dentate. Petioles dilated into a sheath at the base. Flower-stalks erect, pubescent, with two linear bracts near the centre. Flowers bright blue, at first often tinged with green; in long spikes. Spur long and pointed. Petals bifid, the 2 inferior downy at the base. Follicles 3-5, glabrous or hairy. Seeds numerous, with imbricated scales.

Rocky and shrubby places in the south. June to August.

Distribution

Hautes-Alpes, Basses-Alpes, Maritime Alps (at about 2000 feet in the chestnut zone), Var, Bouches-du-Rhone, Gard, Southern Europe as far as the Caucasus; Western Asia.

Delphinium Elatum L. Alpine Larkspur

Stem 1-2 yards high, robust. Leaves palmately divided into 5-7 divisions, similar to those of E. fissum, but the lobes less linear, and there is no sheath at the base of the petiole. Flowers bright blue, in long spikes. Petals downy.

Very local, in fresh, stony places in the mountains between 4800 and 6500 feet. June to August.

Distribution

Central Europe (not in the Jura), but including Carpathians, Silesia, Bohemia and as far as the Caucasus, Provence, Eastern Pyrenees; Siberia, India.

Delphinium Consolida L

Annual. Almost glabrous. Stem slender, 8-18 inches, with spreading branches; leaves multifid, with linear segments; bracts simple and entire, linear, spike short, few-flowered. Flowers deep blue, with long spur. Carpels glabrous, solitary. Seeds black.

Among crops on calcareous soil. June to August.

In the sub-Alps this beautiful blue weed is occasionally seen up to about 4000 feet, as e.g. in a small arable field in the Val d'Anniviers (Valais), where we saw it again in 1911 after a lapse of eight years, and in cornfields below Lanslebourg in Savoy.

Distribution

Nearly all Europe; Western Asia.

Aconitum L

Perennial herbs with much-divided leaves, the segments palmate. Sepals 5, coloured, the upper one helmet-shaped, the two lateral broader than the two lower. Petals 2-5, concealed within the calyx. Stamens numerous. Carpels 3-5, each with several seeds.

A rather small genus inhabiting the mountainous parts of Europe, Asia, and North America; though a number of new species have recently been determined from the Himalaya.

Aconitum Authora L

Rootstock with 1-3 globular tubers covered with fibres. Stem erect, 1-2 feet high, glabrous below, downy above, like the flower-stalks and calyx. Leaves pedately or palmately 5-9 cleft, usually glabrous, except the root-leaves; divisions palmately multisect, with narrowly linear segments. Flowers in a simple or branched terminal raceme, yellow. Calyx persistent after withering. Hood hemispherical and helmet-shaped. Follicle hispid or ultimately glabrous.

Stony places and pastures in the Alps. July to September.

Distribution

Carpathians; Jura, Switzerland (Tessin), Eastern Alps, Corbieres and Pyrenees; Western Asia.