Baker’s larkspur (Delphinium bakeri) remains as a single small population along a roadside in Marin County, California, not far from the Pacific coast. This perennial herb grows erect to 45 cm tall and features blue flowers in the spring. It was formerly more common in the coastal area, as far north as Sonoma County, but has been extirpated in all previous locations by land conversion to agricultural purposes (USFWS 2014).
Known only from coastal Marin and Sonoma counties, California. In early 2005, the single extant occurrence was reduced from about 100 plants to only 6 by workers using a mechanical digger to clear a clogged roadside drain. The 60-meter stretch of hillside where the plants were located was marked to alert the county workers but this was either ignored or misinterpreted. The only naturally occurring population, along a roadside, has consistently had only two to four plants of flowering size since 2005. No natural recruitment has been observed since 2010.
Plants from 20 maternal lines were grown at the University of California Botanical Garden nursery starting in 2006. Over 400,000 seeds from these maternal lines have been collected and placed in storage. Some have been used for reintroduction.
Established 1890, the UC Botanical Garden’s 34 acres contain nearly 11,000 taxa and more than 18,000 accessions of plants from all over the world arranged by region. The garden is famous for its large number of rare and endangered species.
Baker’s Larkspur Photo credit: Stan Shebs