San Clemente Island Larkspur / Center For Plant Conservation
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Plant Profile

San Clemente Island Larkspur (Delphinium variegatum ssp. kinkiense)

  • Global Rank: T2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Ranunculaceae
  • State: CA
  • Nature Serve ID: 141629
  • Lifeform: Forb/herb
  • Date Inducted in National Collection:

The San Clemente Island larkspur (Delphinium variegatum ssp. kinkiense) is one of 13 plant species that are only found on San Clemente Island. Of the islands 272 native plant species, 47 of them, or 13% of the islands total flora, occur only on one or more of the Channel Islands and no where else on earth. In 1977 the San Clemente Island larkspur, along with the San Clemente bushmallow, San Clemente broom, San Clemente Island indian paintbrush, was one of the first plant species to be listed for protection under the 1973 Endangered Species Act. The San Clemente Island larkspur is an herbaceous perennial plant that following winter rains develops leafy shoots and subsequent flower stems from a fibrous or fleshy rootstalk. This colorful late spring blooming member of the island grassland plant community typically grows less than 2 tall, bears pale blue to white flowers, and is one of the three recognized subspecies of the more common mainland, dark blue flowered, Royal Larkspur, Delphinium variegatum ssp. variegatum. The mainland subspecies interestingly is not known to occur on the more closely adjacent southern California mainland regions but is rather most common from the San Francisco Bay region north and east into the Sierra Nevada mountain foothill regions. The third subspecies, Thornes Royal Larkspur Delphinium variegatum ssp. thornei), has bright blue flowers, and like ssp. kinkiense is also only found on (endemic to) San Clemente Island. San Clemente Island, the southern most of the Channel Islands of California, lies 64 miles west-northwest and 50 miles south-southwest of San Pedro, the nearest point of the mainland. Once covered by continuous stretches of coastal sage scrub and canyon woodlands, most of the island has since been converted to eroded non-native grasslands by introduced feral goats and pigs. Fortunately over the past few decades the U.S. Navy that owns the island has been removing the animals allowing the vegetation and many of the severely threatened plant and animals species to recover. In January 2023, this species was delisted by the USFWS.

Where is San Clemente Island Larkspur (Delphinium variegatum ssp. kinkiense) located in the wild?


Valley and Foothill Grasslands


Northeastern mesas and valley slopes, San Clemente Island

States & Provinces:

San Clemente Island Larkspur can be found in California

Which CPC Partners conserve San Clemente Island Larkspur (Delphinium variegatum ssp. kinkiense)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to one island, 6-7 populations of 20 to several hundred plants total. Highly threatened by feral goats and pigs (info from early 1980s).

  • 01/01/2010

Competition and displacement from non-native plant species Impacts from military training Biological research activities on the island Grazing by goats and pigs This plant species is also considered seriously endangered by the California Na

  • 01/01/2010

Data from 1985-87 surveys for the San Clemente Island larkspur conducted by J. Mills and M. Beauchamp mapped 20 localities totaling an estimated 12,500 individuals*. CNDDB reports 13 presumed extant occurrences most all from same outdated data source, e.g. J. Mills, 1985-87. In 2000 24 populations of the two insular endemic subspecies were documented and sampled by Dodd and Helenurm, 2002. *Pers. Comm & Locality maps on file at RSABG.

  • 01/01/2010

Recent and ongoing research has been performed on Delphinium variegatum and its three subspecies (ssp. variegatum, ssp. kinkiense, ssp. thornei). Research includes floral variation and genetic diversity. (Dodd and Helenurm 2000, 2002)

  • 01/01/2010

The U.S. Navy has jurisdiction over San Clemente Island, has an ongoing program to remove feral goats and pigs in an effort to restore the native vegetation. (CDFG 2002) For more information contact: Natural Resources Office, Building 3 Navy Region Southwest (Code N4515) Box 357088 San Diego, CA 92135-7088

  • 01/01/2010

Population surveys, assessments, and updating this information into the California Natural Diversity Data Base records (CNDDB) should be initiated. Continued manage of exotic plant species

  • 01/01/2010

Seed banking and germination studies Propagation research


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Taxon Delphinium variegatum ssp. kinkiense
Authority (Munz) M. J. Warnock
Family Ranunculaceae
CPC Number 13386
ITIS 523954
Duration Perennial
Common Names San Clemente Island Larkspur | royal larkspur
Associated Scientific Names Delphinium variegatum ssp. kinkiense | Delphinium kinkiense
Distribution Northeastern mesas and valley slopes, San Clemente Island
State Rank
State State Rank
California S2
Ecological Relationships

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bumble bees Bumblebees Floral Visitor Link
Bees Floral Visitor Link

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