Delphinium menziesii

From Puget Prairie Plants
  • Scientific Name: Delphinium menziesii
  • Family: Ranunculaceae
  • Common Names: Menzie's larkspur
  • Codon: DELMEN

Photo by Rod Gilbert, 2004. Featured on Main Page


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Viridiplantae
Phylum: Tracheophyta
Subphylum: Spermatophytina
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Magnoliidae
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Delphinium L.
Species: Delphinium menziesii DC.
  • Delphinium menziesii ssp. menziesii DC.
  • Delphinium menziesii ssp. pallidum M.J. Warnock



Perennial herb with spurred, bluish-purple flowers growing from tuberous roots, up to 50 cm tall.[2] Stems unbranched, with fine hairs.[3] Leaves alternate,[4] dissected 2-3 times, narrowly oblong, basal leaves long-petiolate.[2] Inflorescences open-racemose, simple to compound, 3-20 flowered.[2] Flowers zygomorphic; sepals 5, uppermost being prominently spurred; corolla with two unequal pairs (4 petals), upper pair spurred, lower pair dark blue to purple; many stamens;[4] pistils 3, simple, becoming 3 follicles.[2]

Bloom Period



Both sides of the Cascades in Washington, British Columbia to Oregon.[5]


Prairies, coastal bluffs, mid-elevation moist meadows and forest openings.[2] Delphinium menziesii occurs in rich well drained soils and full sun.[6]


POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Highly Toxic; May be Fatal if eaten. Symptoms include burning of lips and mouth, numbness of throat; intense vomiting and diarrhea, muscular weakness and spasms, weak pulse, paralysis of the respiratory system, convulsions. Toxic Principle: Alkaloids delphinine, ajacine, and others. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.). Inhibits the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes.[6]

The First Nations have recorded uses of Dephinium menziesii as a poultice of the stalks and roots that has been applied to sores. A parasiticide is obtained from the leaves. It is quite toxic and so is for external use only. A blue dye can be obtained from the flowers.[7]

Gardeners purport that this plant is an attractant and pollinated by hummingbirds, butterflies and bumblebees.[8]


Sow seeds in March/April in a cold frame or May outdoors. Keep moist and in a shady position until germination takes place. The seed has a limited viability so it should be stored in a sealed container at about 3°c. Temperatures above 15°c inhibit germination. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 9 weeks at 15°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Cuttings of basal shoots in April/May, taken before they become hollow at the base, and planted in a cold frame. Division in spring or early autumn.[6]

Native Plant Network Propagation Protocol


Seed sample from 2009

Delphinium menziesii seeds
Photo Credit Lisa Hintz


Average measurement: 1.9 x 1.2 x 1

Measurement range: L: 1.5 – 2.3, W: 1.1 – 1.3, D: 0.9 x 1.2

Latitudinal cross section: obovate DEME lat new.png

Longitudinal cross section: elliptical DEME long.png

Seeds dark brown in a roomy, clear/white seed coat that bunches around hilum and seed edges. Bagginess of seed coat sometimes gives the seed a winged appearance.

Seed coat very finely longitudinal striate and glossy.

Basic Explanations and Assumptions:

The dimensions for the seeds are length x width x depth. The location of the hilum is used as the base of the seed, and the length is measured from hilum to the opposite apex. Where a style is present, the length is measured from the hilum to the bottom of the style. Width is measured at a right angle to the length at the widest part. Depth is measured at a right angle to the intersection of height and width lines.

Measurements included are the mean average for each measurement of ten separate seeds.

All measurements in millimeters unless otherwise noted.

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  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved from
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum, & University of Washington. Retrieved from
  3. Pojar, J., & MacKinnon, A. (1994) Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Lone Pine Publishing.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hitchcock, C. L., Cronquist, A., Giblin, D., & Legler, B. et al. (2018). Flora of the Pacific Northwest: an illustrated manual. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 89-92.
  5. WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum, & University of Washington. Retrieved from
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Plants for a Future. Retrieved from
  7. Native American Ethnobotany Database. Retrieved from
  8. Walama Restoration Project. Retrieved from