Sunday, July 8, 2012

Plants. We think we know them and the deeper we dig into their lives, the more we are taken by surprise. The name Delphinium (common name Larkspur) comes from the Latin or Greek for 'dolphin'. Shape of these showy flowers is said to resemble the dolphin's bottle-nose. Actually, the plant is a member of the buttercup family. Once the plant grew wild in cornfields, though they are rarely seen nowadays in that setting.  The plant is highly toxic to cattle until late in the season when the poisonous alkaloids are less potent. Odd then that in ancient times the plant was used in herbal remedies for dropsy and to prevent scorpion stings. In California, this magnificent flowering perennial is on the endangered species list. I stood in awe at a clump of them in a  rose garden at lunch the other day. Not even the roses for which the restaurant was named could match the delphinium's regal splendor.