CPC Plant Profile: Yellow Larkspur
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Plant Profile

Yellow Larkspur (Delphinium luteum)

The yellow flowers of this delphinium can be found from March to May, and are pollinated by hummingbirds. Photo Credit: Holly Forbes
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Ranunculaceae
  • State: CA
  • Nature Serve ID: 157718
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 04/04/1991

The picturesque coast of California north of San Francisco is the only home for the yellow larkspur. Now found in only two locations, both on private land, it was probably never widely distributed, occurring on rocky areas within coastal scrub at elevations up to 100 meters. Loss of habitat due to quarrying, livestock grazing, development, and overcollecting reduced its numbers to these two occurrences.

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Updates
  • 09/08/2020
  • Genetic Research

An examination of the genetic variability of the species and the potential hybrid contamination of two ex situ populations was carried out (Koontz et al. 2001). They found that while the two ex situ populations have somewhat reduced genetic variability in comparison to one of the natural populations, it wasn't significant enough to bar using them in a future introduction effort, nor was there any evidence of hybridization in cultivation.

  • 09/01/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Based on an September 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, University of California Botanical Garden holds 45 accessions of Delphinium luteum in orthodox seed collection. There are as many as 971 seeds of this species in their collection - although some may have been used for curation testing or sent to back up.

  • 08/05/2020
  • Seed Collection

Based on an August 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, University of California Botanical Garden has collected 45 seed accessions of Delphinium luteum from 1 plant occurrences listed in the California Natural Diversity Database. These collections together emcompass 45 maternal plants

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Known only from coastal Sonoma County and Marin County, California. Historical populations have been extirpated and the available habitat greatly diminished. Threats to this species include development, over collection, road maintenance including widening, sheep grazing, fire suppression, and hybridization with other Delphinium species. In 2005 only about 200 individuals were suspected to be persisting. Since this species is known from such small numbers and few populations it is also threatened by natural events such as unseasonal fires, drought, or disease that could lead to extinction.

Holly Forbes
  • 01/01/2010

Threats include: rock quarrying activities over-collecting residential development deer and sheep grazing

Holly Forbes
  • 01/01/2010

The two remaining populations total fewer than 80 plants. These numbers fluctuate from year to year. Two ex situ populations are in cultivation in Sonoma County and at the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley. (USFWS 2002)

Holly Forbes
  • 01/01/2010

An examination of the genetic variability of the species and the potential hybrid contamination of two ex situ populations was carried out (Koontz et al. 2001). They found that while the two ex situ populations have somewhat reduced genetic variability in comparison to one of the natural populations, it wasn't significant enough to bar using them in a future introduction effort, nor was there any evidence of hybridization in cultivation.

Holly Forbes
  • 01/01/2010

The two populations are not under any management program.

Holly Forbes
  • 01/01/2010

More information on this species' life history, environmental requirements, pollination biology, and seed dispersal will be needed to promote a successful reintroduction effort. The USFWS will be designating critical habitat for the yellow larkspur this year (2002).

Holly Forbes
  • 01/01/2010

Seed collection of a genetically representative sample is needed for long-term storage.

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Nomenclature
Taxon Delphinium luteum
Authority Heller
Family Ranunculaceae
CPC Number 1382
ITIS 18475
USDA DELU
Common Names yellow larkspur
Associated Scientific Names Delphinium luteum | Delphinium nudicaule var. luteum
Distribution Coastal Sonoma County, California. (USFWS 2002)
State Rank
State State Rank
California S1
Habitat

Yellow Larkspur grows in rocky areas within coastal scrub plant communities, including areas with active rock slides, from sea level to 100 m. in elevation. (USFWS 2002)

Ecological Relationships

The plants are easily grown in cultivation. Pollination is by hummingbirds. Yellow larkspur is self-compatible, but requires visitation by hummingbirds or insects for good seed set.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bees
Bumble bees Bumblebees Floral Visitor Link
Birds
Hummingbirds Allen's hummingbirds Suspected Pollinator Floral Link
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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