Ornamental as a garden flower, bright as the brightest purple or delicately lavender or chastely white, the wild larkspur grows in the blue-grass woods, in the hilly Limestone woods, or along roads where once there were woods. Wild larkspur is one of the most brilliant and arresting of all the Illinois spring flowers.
Delphinium tricorne Michx.
April - May Grassy woods.
In woods where the larkspur blooms there flutter the Papilio butterflies, the tiger swallowtail and the angular zebra swallowtail. The zebras lay their eggs on the new pawpaw leaves; the tigers choose sassafras. The bright black and silver wings of the zebra swallowtails come flitting in jagged flight through the sunlight of the larkspur woods where the pawpaws grow, and the tigers, bright canary yellow and black, fly apparently in aimless fashion through the tree- and over the flowers. 'The swallowtails both come to the wild larkspur flowers, and in so doing present a splendid contrast in color and line. The larkspur flowers with their fuzzy centers and long spurs offer a somewhat difficult perch for butterflies, so that they must cling with wings in motion while the long proboscis probes deeply into the trumpets for nectar.
Bees, however, are believed to be the actual pollinizers of the Larkspur big black and yellow bumblebees making the whole flower stalk shake while they sip nectar from bright purple blossoms. Larkspurs are unable to complete fertilization in themselves without the aid of the bees.