LARKSPUR

Consolida ajacis

(Formerly: Delphinium ambiguum)
Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]

month8may month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8blue flower8pink flower8white
inner
inner8white
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ5
type
typeZspiked
type
typeZspurred
stem
stem8round
toxicity
toxicityZsevere
contact
contactZhigh

mid June 2016, southern interior BC, Canada. Photo: © Carla Rivère
Growing wild in British Columbia.


mid June 2016, southern interior BC, Canada. Photo: © Carla Rivère
Up to a metre or so high, with flowers that are well-separated (unlike those of Delphinium which are in a close-knit flowering spike).


mid June 2016, southern interior BC, Canada. Photo: © Carla Rivère
Flowers vivid blue (but can be either pink or white) with a long spur sticking out of the rear.


mid June 2016, southern interior BC, Canada. Photo: © Carla Rivère
Has five petals with a slight bi-lateral symmetry.


mid June 2016, southern interior BC, Canada. Photo: © Carla Rivère
A white cup sits underneath the top petal.


mid June 2016, southern interior BC, Canada. Photo: © Carla Rivère
Flower can be long white-hairy in places.


mid June 2016, southern interior BC, Canada. Photo: © Carla Rivère
An un-mistakable feature is the spur at the back (which does not attach to the stem). A couple of narrow bracts emerge where the flower joins its stalk, appearing to form a supporting cradle. A short bract emerges in the axil of the flower stalk.


mid June 2016, southern interior BC, Canada. Photo: © Carla Rivère
The green flower stalk (petiole) attaches to the flower just underneath where the spur starts with a further 2 green bracts/sepals either side of the spur.


mid June 2016, southern interior BC, Canada. Photo: © Carla Rivère
Some anthers are just poking out from the centre of the flower.


mid June 2016, southern interior BC, Canada. Photo: © Carla Rivère
The leaves are much lower down the stem, linear, or pinnate linear.




A GARDEN VARIETY

21st June 2013, a garden, Northumberland. Photo: © Carol Reay
The petals are wider than our Larkspur which, although still not native, do grow wild somewhere in the UK (although your Author has never seen them). The leaves are also lanceolate rather than narrow-linear or pinnately linear.


16th June 2013, a garden, Northumberland. Photo: © Carol Reay
In this garden variety the lower leaves are large and palmately lobed rather than narrow-linear pinnately linear. There are many other garden varieties of Larkspur.


Easily mistaken for : other garden Larkspurs.

Some similarities to : garden Delphiniums, but they have a more densely populated and longer flowering spike.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

Although similar, the Genus Consolida (Larkspurs) which are annuals, differs from that of the Genus Delphinium which are perennials. Both are used as garden plants. Worldwide there are about 40 Consolida, but about 300 differing Delphiniums which occur naturally (as well as countless cultivated horticultural specimens created especially for gardeners).

The above specimen was found by Carol growing wild in a plant-pot from a seed dropped by a bird. It might possibly not actually be the ajacis species of Consolida, but some other, because the stem leaves should be very narrow and the lower leaves forked and very narrow, rather than palmate. But it certainly belongs to the Consolida genus.

The Larkspurs also differ from Delphiniums in the shape and form of their flowers, with those of the former being in a very open, loose and often branched spike whereas those of Delphiniums are more closely packed and in a dense longer spike. The fruit also differ, with those of Larkspur being single whereas those of Delphinium are in a long clustered flowering spike.

ACONITINE ALKALOIDS

Larkspur itself, Consolida ajacis, contains over thirty diterpenoid Aconitine-like alkaloids such as MethylLycAconitine and Lycoctonine.



MethylLycAconitine (aka MLA) is based on Lycoctonine but with an additional benzoic acid moiety and a 3-methyl-2,5-dioxo-pyrrolidine group (succinimide) attached to that. It is a highly poisonous diterpenoid (or more strictly, a nor-diterpenoid, since it has one less carbon atom than the required 20 for a diterpenoid) alkaloid which is found in many species of Larkspur and is the principle toxin therein. It has insecticidal properties. Lycoctonine, upon which it is based, is however far less poisonous by between 10 to 100-fold. MLA blocks neuromuscular transmission in skeletal muscle but not smooth muscle which is typical of acetylcholine antagonists at nicotinic (but not muscarinic) sites. It is highly poisonous to both humans and livestock causing complete paralysis and respiratory arrest. Neostigmine with Atropine was found to be an effective antidote for sheep whereas for calves Physostigmine reversed the effects. It has been used as a treatment for neurological disorders. The lethal dose (LD50) for man has not been determined, but it is likely to be less than 0.5mg/kg body weight, thus ruling out most if not all applications as a therapeutic pharmaceutical.

It is interesting to note that several anti-convulsant pharmaceuticals are based upon Succinimide, such as Phensuximide, which also has the phenyl group attached (but in a different place to that in MLA.

Larkspur also contains 14-acetyldelcosine, 14-acetyldelectine, 13-O-acetylvakhmatine, ajabicine, ajacine, 14-deacetylajadine, dihydroajaconine, ajacusine, ajadelphine, ajadelphinine, ajadine, ajadinine, ajanine, ambiguine, 14-deacetylambiguine, anthranoyllycoctonine, browniine, 14-acetylbrowniine, delajacine, delajacirine, delajadine, delcosine, delectine, delphatine, 19-oxodelphatine, delpheline, delphisine, delsoline, deltaline, deltatsine, gigactonine, 18-methoxygadesine, 19-oxoanthranoyllycoctonine, takaosamine and vakhmatine.


  Consolida ajacis  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Ranunculaceae  

Distribution
 family8Buttercup family8Ranunculaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Consolida
Consolida
(Larkspurs)

LARKSPUR

Consolida ajacis

(Formerly: Delphinium ambiguum)
Buttercup Family [Ranunculaceae]