CPC Plant Profile: Wenatchee Larkspur
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Plant Profile

Wenatchee Larkspur (Delphinium viridescens)

A field of Delphinium viridescens. Photo Credit: Washington NHP
Description
  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Ranunculaceae
  • State: WA
  • Nature Serve ID: 147393
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/10/1987

This unusual looking delphinium is tall (3-6 ft or 1-2 m), and has a narrow stalk of 30 to 50 closely spaced greenish-brown flowers. Most delphiniums are blue, purple, or red and attractive to animals (i.e. Hummingbirds) and bumblebees. Delphinium viridescens attracts only bumblebees. While this rare species can withstand fire, it cannot sustain the constant impact of human activities: residential development, road construction, logging and cattle grazing. Large populations must be maintained in order to preserve the genetic variability within this species.

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Updates
  • 09/08/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Seeds from 7 sites stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.

  • 09/08/2020
  • Seed Collection

Seeds from 7 sites stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.

  • 09/08/2020
  • Reproductive Research

Examination of Delphinium viridescens response to burn treatment indicates that this species survives in a fire frequent environment by resprouting from well-developed rhizomes (Harrod et al. 2000).

  • 09/08/2020
  • Genetic Research

Genetic variation was examined within and among populations of this taxon using isozyme electrophoresis. High genetic variability and high levels of heterozygosity were found within and among (between) populations (Richter et al. 1994).

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

A local endemic of the Wenatchee Mountains of central Washington State. Requires moist, meadow-like habitats. About 14 occurrences are currently known, with a total of 5000-10,000 individual plants. Timber management, road construction, and rural home development all potentially contribute to altered site-hydrology, which is probably the greatest threat to the species. Changes in vegetation composition resulting from ground disturbance and altered hydrologic patterns present a secondary threat.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

As cited by the Washington Natural Heritage Program (WNHP 1999), threats include; Habitat loss due to residential development. Hydrologic changes from development and road construction. Timber harvest. Livestock grazing.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Approximately 21 extant populations (Harrod et al. 2000). Population sizes range from 1 to 200 (WNHP 2000).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Genetic variation was examined within and among populations of this taxon using isozyme electrophoresis. High genetic variability and high levels of heterozygosity were found within and among (between) populations (Richter et al. 1994). Examination of Delphinium viridescens response to burn treatment indicates that this species survives in a fire frequent environment by resprouting from well-developed rhizomes (Harrod et al. 2000).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Endangered status in WA (WNHP 2000). Seeds from 7 sites stored at The Berry Botanic Garden.

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Determine extent of rhizome systems using mapping and genetic analysis to determine clones (Richter et al. 1994) Analysis of genetic variation within and among populations using molecular markers such as RAPDs, ISSR, or microsatellites (Richter et al. 1994). In order to maintain this genetic diversity, at least four large populations must be preserved (projected to maintain 99% of the alleles) (Richter et al. 1994). Study reproductive biology, pollen and seed dispersal, demography and life history (Richter et al. 1994). Inventory appropriate habitats within range (WNHP 1999). Explore the mechanism for increased reproductive output in response to fire in this strongly rhizomatous species. Determine seed germination requirements and conditions that are favorable for seedling establishment (Harrod et al. 2000). Prescribed burning (Harrod et al. 2000).

Edward Guerrant, Ph.D.
  • 01/01/2010

Collect and store seeds from across the species' range. Determine germination requirements. Determine propagation and reintroduction protocols.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Delphinium viridescens
Authority Leiberg
Family Ranunculaceae
CPC Number 1390
ITIS 18525
USDA DEVI2
Common Names greenish larkspur | Wenatchee larkspur
Associated Scientific Names Delphinium viridescens
Distribution A limited region within the Wenatchee mountains of central Washington. The area is only 20 miles (30 km) long by 6 miles (10 km) wide (at the widest).
State Rank
State State Rank
Washington S2
Habitat

Moist meadows, moist micro-sites in open coniferous forest, springs, seeps, and riparian areas. All habitats are characterized by surface water or saturated upper soil into early summer, with poorly drained and silty to clayey-loam soil. (WNHP 1999). Elevation 1800 to 4200 ft (550-1280 m).

Ecological Relationships

Little is known about the species' reproductive biology, pollen and seed dispersal, demography or life history (Richter et al. 1994). The flowers are protandrous, meaning that the anthers on an individual flower mature before the stigmas do. Delphinium viridescens appears to resist fire by re-sprouting from underground rhizomes, an important adaptation in the dry rain-shadow climate of the eastern cascades. Population monitoring reveals that this species performs better after a burn. Monitoring indicated that fire caused no mortality, and population density did not differ between burned and unburned plots. Plants in burned plots were, however, larger and more robust, likely resulting from decreased competition for light. Plants in the burned plots also had more flowers and fruit than those plants in the unburned plots. This final result is consistent with work by Kuhlmann and Everett (unpublished report cited in Harrod et al. 2000) who found that stem length and number of reproductive structures increased as shading increased from 0 to 30% shading but declined with greater shading (Harrod et al. 2000).

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bees
Bumble bees Bumblebees Confirmed Pollinator Link
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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