A delicate, deeply rooting annual plant (rarely biennial) with lobe-like leaves, and violet, sometimes pink or blue, pectinate flowers. The great advantage of the forking larkspur is its considerable resistance to mowing. Wild, non-cultivar form.
€1,75 – €7,00
Polish name: field spur
Latin name: Consolida regalis (syn. Delphinium consolida)
Family: buttercups Ranunuculaceae
Status in Poland: permanently established, like most cereal weeds
The forking larkspur is a medium-tall (up to 70 cm high) annual plant, rarely biennial.
The stem is almost completely glabrous, erect but branched. The leaves are always tripinnate, composed of a multitude of inconspicuous, linear leaflets.
The pectinate flowers, composed of a corolla and a calyx, violet blue or blue-pink falling into purple (occasionally white or light pink mutants are found), clustered in small loose racemes, form from June to September. The calyx of this larkspur consists of five oval sepals. The upper sepal ends with a characteristic spur (hence the name of the whole genus), slightly bent to the front and at the same time pointing backwards. The corolla is made of two fused petals and also has a spur, hiding under the spur of the calyx. The pedicles are longer than the bracts.
The fruit of the forking larkspur is a flat, up to 10 mm long, follicle, having only one or a few quite large, barely accommodating because sometimes even 2 mm-sized, dark brown seeds.
It is sometimes grown on purpose as an annual summer flower in undersowings in vegetables, in naturalistic beds and flower brick walls. More and more often it is introduced into mixtures for flower meadows and bee pastures.
It is propagated in the same way as other delicate annual buttercups by sowing seeds into the ground in early spring or in autumn (some seeds are spring and some are winter). The best spacing for a forking larkspur is 30-40 cm between the rows, and 15-20 cm in each row.
It loves strong full sun, but will even grow in partial shade. The soil for the larkspur should be rich in humus and calcium, rather clay and heavy. It will bloom poorly in acidic, barren, and too permeable soils.
Contrary to many other grain weeds, the forking larkspur can withstand mowing/harvesting quite well, so it can give fruits in the stubble. It also penetrates field margins, roadsides, and dry pastures, and persists in the fallow lands despite the cessation of plowing and sowing.
However, it is damaged by modern herbicide-based agriculture. It was not able to adapt as well to pesticides as common corn-cockle or rye brome, so it is still disappearing in Europe, including Poland. In the past, poisonings with the larkspur were a common problem. They occurred either after eating bread or flour dumplings heavily contaminated with the poisonous seeds of this larkspur, or after overdosing worm medicines.
In today’s professional literature, there is no data on the melliferousness of the forking larkspur. Like other buttercups, it supplies pollen to hymenopterans.