Rocket Larkspur, Doubtful Knight’s Spur, Giant Larkspur
The Larkspur is one of those species that is kind of in limbo as far as its agreed-upon scientific name goes. Currently, as of 1-18-21 when I am “re-writing” this page, the entire Consolida genus had been absorbed into the genus Delphinium. I am not sure when that happened, but many species of both genera have been moved back and forth for a very long time. I previously used The Plant List which hasn’t been updated since version 1.1 in 2013… World Flora Online basically took over The Plant List but uploaded all the out-dated information on the new site. They are “supposed” to upload correct and updated data from Plants of the World Online but as of when I am working on this page, that still hasn’t been done. I am not sure what the hold-up has been but they are probably blaming COVID-19… By the time I get around updating again, hopefully, that will be old news and everything will be fine and wonderful. 🙂 Just be aware, if you are a fan of The Plant List or World Flora Online, their data is NOT correct and up-to-date… Plants of the World Online by Kew (Royal Botanical Garden) is up to snuff and it is well maintained.
Many Consolida and Delphinium species are/were very similar and are hard to distinguish from one another. The same common names are used for many species of both genera. Previously, Consolida species were considered annuals and Delphinium species were considered perennials. Flowers of Delphiniums have four pistols and Consolida species have only one. Phylogenetic testing showed that Consolida is an annual clade nested within the Delphinium genus. Many years ago, like in the early 1980’s, I bought perennial Delphiniums from a local greenhouse. Their leaves and flower spikes were much different than than the plants on this page.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING.
My first experience with Larkspur was when I was living at the mansion in Leland, Mississippi. Suzanne (Dr. Skinner), had bought a lot of seeds from a seller on Ebay in 2009 and one package said “Larkspur”. After Suzanne died, I started my first blog called The Mystical Mansion and Garden. I did research about the Larkspur for the blog but I must have been confused because the photos were labeled Larkspur, Delphinium ambiguum, and Consolida ajacis… I moved back to the family farm in west-central Missouri and started the first Belmont Rooster Blog in 2013. I did a little more research but I was still confused about the Larkspur’s actual scientific name but I went with the name Consolida ajacis because these plants were self-seeding annuals and at that time it was an accepted scientific name…
There are basically three species these plants could be… All are self-seeding annuals and have similar leaves and flowers. I would say they are either Delphinium ajacis or D. consolida mainly because they are the most popular and more commonly available. You never know, when the label or seed packet just says “mix” they could be hybrids…
Delphinium ajacis L. is a correct and accepted scientific name of this species. It was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. The synonym, Consolida ajacis (L.) Schur, was named and described as such by Philipp Johann Ferdinand Schur in Verhandlungen und Mittheilungen (Mitteilungen) des Siebenbürgischen Vereins für Naturwissenschaften zu Hermannstadt in 1853. There are 12 synonyms of Delphinium ajacis.
Delphinium consolida L. was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. The synonym, Consolida regalis Gray was named and described as such by Samuel Frederick Gray in Natural Arrangement of British Plants in 1821. There are 13 synonyms of Delphinium consolida.
Delphinium ambiguum L. was ALSO named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the SECOND volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. The synonym, Consolida ambigua (L.) P.W.Ball & Haywood was named and described as such by Peter William Ball and Vernon Hilton Heywood in Feddes Repertorium Novarum Regni Vegetabilis in 1962.
The genus, Delphinium Tourn. ex L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. Linnaeus used the name and description previously made by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort. Currently, Plants of the World Online lists 14 synonyms of the genus.
The genus, Consolida Gray, was named and described as such by Samuel Frederick Gray in the Natural Arrangement of British Plants in 1821.
Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 500 species in the Delphinium genus (as of 1-17-21 when I am updating this page). The Consolida genus, as well as 13 other genera, are classified as synonyms by Plants of the World Online. Delphinium is a member of the plant family Ranunculaceae with 52 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.
Typically, Consolida are/were annuals and their flowers are open and loosely branched. Delphinium flowers are/were more or less in a column.
Larkspur plants kept coming up every spring, but being a self-seeding annual, I never knew where they would pop up.
They are easy to recognize by their ferny foliage. Just dig them up when they come up in the spring and put them where you want them. Even though were self-sowing, not very many came up each spring. They are considered a cool-weather annual and in the south, they do fizzle out when it gets hot.
Then, in 2017, I brought home 2 plants from a local greenhouse and their tags simply said “Delphinium Mix’… SO, I had two pages. One for Consolida ajacis and one for Delphinium… When I bought my Delphinium plants I thought they sure looked like the Larkspur I had grown in Mississippi. Now I know why they looked like my Consolida ajacis… They are the same plant!!!
I transplanted the new Delphiniums in the bed along the south of the house I had just refurbished.
Once the temps got hotter, like in Mississippi, these plants fizzled out. If I try these again I will put them in the bed on the north side of the house.
I must admit, I like the Larkspur and they make great additions to butterfly and hummingbird gardens. Just a great plant for any kind of cottage garden in general. I have to get some seed so I can plant them here on the farm someday. The Missouri Plants website lists both Delphinium ajacis and D. consolida. Although they are considered a native plant in many states in the United States, they are not originally from this country. They are immigrants… 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful (perhaps entertaining). If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species. If you notice I made an error, please let me know.
The websites below use either name, mainly Consolida ajacis. It takes many websites a while to update and some never do. It takes a lot of time to keep up with updates, especially for certain species, because the names keep changing and there may be a lot of controversy…