|Wenatchee larkspur, located along Camas Creek Road in eastern Washington|
The Wenatchee Larkspur (Delphinium viridescens) is a rare plant native to the U.S., located in the Wenatchee Mountains region, and is a part of the Ranunculaceae family. The Wenatchee larkspur is generally described as a perennial forb/herb. The scientific name of the Wenatchee larkspur is Delphinium viridescens, which is a native plant to the United States, located in the mountains southwest of Wenatchee, Washington.
Established in 1989, the Nature Conservancy purchased land parcels located in central Washington to protect one of the "last best places" on earth. The Camas Meadows Natural Area Preserve contains the largest known populations of two rare plant species, the Wenatchee Mountains Checker-mallow (Sidalcea oregana var. calva) and the Wenatchee larkspur. These plants grow only in the Wenatchee Mountains region, they are not found anywhere else in the world.
The Wenatchee larkspur is a plant native to the mountains southwest of Wenatchee, Washington. Common locations where the Wenatchee larkspur is found are in moist meadows, moist micro-sites in open coniferous forest, springs, seeps, and riparian areas. All known habitats of the Wenatchee larkspur are characterized by surface water or saturated upper soil into early summer, with poorly drained and silty to clayey-loam soil (WNHP 1999). Flowering season is in the summer, most notably in July; peak anthesis occurs during mid-summer. The flowers are protandrous, meaning that the anthers on an individual flower mature before the stigmas do. Little else is known about the reproductive biology, pollen and seed dispersal, demography or life history of the Wenatchee larkspur (Richter et al. 1994).
Camas Meadows Natural Area Preserves
In parts of Washington, almost all of the landscape has been altered. As central Washington's population is growing, its natural landscape is rapidly disappearing. Through Natural Area Preserves the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) protects remnants of Washington's natural heritage, reconstructs habitat and contributes to a healthy environment for future generations. Natural Area Preserves are set aside for research and provide opportunities for education. Many require a DNR guide, but others have interpretive trails where anyone can learn about Washington's unique natural heritage on their own.
The Natural Area designation at Camas Meadows was purchased primarily to protect two endangered plants that live there: the Wenatchee larkspur and the Wenatchee Mountain checker-mallow. The Preserve at Camas Meadows contains 75% of the global population of the Wenatchee Mountain checker-mallow and 40% of the Wenatchee larkspur. There are a few other nearby places that have smaller populations of these two plants, but Camas Meadows is their primary home.
The Wenatchee larkspur is confined to a small total range and apparently a very specific set of habitat conditions, located in eastern/central Washington. Washington's state Department of Natural Resources has suggested that appropriate habitats within the range of this species should continue to be inventoried.
Threats and Management Concerns
Subdivision and subsequent development of rural residences represent a major threat to this species. Hydrologic changes resulting from development and associated road construction also pose a significant threat. Timber harvesting and grazing pose localized threats for some populations.
- USDA Plants. PLANTS Profile for Delphinium viridescens (Wenatchee larkspur), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Accessed July 2010.
- Washington State Natural Areas Brochure (PDF), Washington State Natural Areas Brochure, (Accessed 2010).
- WNHP. 1999. Field Guide to Selected Rare Vascular Plants of Washington. Produced as part of a cooperative project between the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington Natural Heritage Program, and the U.S.D.I. Bureau of Land Management, Spokane District.
- Delphinium viridescens : Wenatchee Larkspur (PDF), dnr.wa.gov, (Accessed 2010).
- University of Washington. WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, (2010).
- Richter, T.S.; Soltis, P.S.; Soltis, D.E. 1994. Genetic variation within and among populations of the narrow endemic, Delphinium viridescens (Ranunculaceae). American Journal of Botany. 81, 8: 1070-1060.
- Department of Natural Resources, Southeast Region office at (509) 952-8510.
- Vladimir Steblina. Nowhere else but Camas Meadows, Camas Meadows, July 05, 2008.
- Croft, L.K., W.R. Owen and J.S. Shelly. 1997. Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project Analysis of Vascular Plants.
- Hitchcock, C.L., A. Cronquist, M. Ownbey, and J.W. Thompson. 1964. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest, Part 2: Salicaceae to Saxifragaceae. University of Washington Press, Seattle. 597 pp.
- Robson, K.A. 1992. A comparative study of the rare Wenatchee larkspur (Delphinium viridescens) and its sympatric relative, Western monkshood (Aconitum columbianum). USDA-USFS, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland.
- (2002). Rare Plants in Washington, and Research. The Rare Plant Care and Conservation Program at the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture. http://depts.washington.edu/rarecare/index.htm. Accessed: 2002.
- Loomis, K.M. 1985. An ecological survey of the Wenatchee larkspur Delphinium viridescens. [M.S. Thesis]: Central Washington University. Ellensburg, Washington.
- Varney, D.M. Reproductive biology of four species of Delphinium endemic to the Wenatchee Mountains. [M.S. Thesis]: University of Washington. Seattle, Washington.