Delphinium again

Mary Sue Ittner
Thu, 10 Jul 2003 21:58:52 PDT
Dear All,

I haven't looked at the roots of this Delphinium, but since it is dormant 
only briefly it may not be a geophyte, but hopefully you all will indulge 
me with this question especially if I promise to save seed for the BX. This 
is a species I grew from NARGS seed identified as Delphinium menziesii. I 
never tried to key it out since it wasn't in Jepson and besides everyone I 
have ever talked to has told me that Delphiniums are very difficult to key. 
When Jane McGary visited me she said she didn't think it was correctly 
identified and she thought she knew what it was, but couldn't remember. It 
was possibly a species not from California so she sent me a key for 
Northwest plants with a little note written on it that a lot of people 
found the Hitchcock keys very hard to use which didn't inspire me to try.

I passed my plant to a good friend of mine who loves to key plants out 
along with the key and she got busy with her microscope and keys to as many 
books as she could find and tackled it for me. She grumbled a bit about the 
key from Jane since she had to look up so many of the words since they 
weren't even listed as terms in the glossaries of her other books and 
finally declared the key a nightmare. But she too didn't think the plant 
was D. menziesii. Her closest guess was D. parryi, but it isn't at all like 
the one I grow of that from seed Harold Koopowitz gave me. That one is also 
a beauty, but it blooms in the spring and has a big tall spike and is now 
dormant and the one in question is a summer bloomer and acts like it wants 
summer water.

In addition it has very distinctive leaves that are much more linear than 
most Delphinium leaves. It has the most gorgeous blue flowers (for those of 
you like me who adore blue flowers) and I'd love to know what it is. Some 
of my books that describe the species don't even mention what color they 
are and nothing very distinctive about the leaves either (maybe saying if 
they are basal or hairy, but that's not a whole lot of help). You'd think 
that if you had a plant this color it just might be worth mentioning. 
Jepson leaves out when plants bloom which is a very serious limitation of 
that book in my humble opinion. It's like the botanists want to keep it a 
secret (or maybe they can't figure them out either.)

Can anyone help me? My husband took this picture in mid August last year 
and I have about 4 pots and they are in different stages of bloom right now.…

Mary Sue 

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