Monday, June 21, 2010

Red birds

Scarlet Larkspur, or Delphinium cardinale, is in bloom now in the grassy hills of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The tall flower spikes, up to two meters high, rise up amid the brush, and until the blooms open, they're so spindly and slender you barely notice them. The leaves, lobed and patterned with silver, make substantial clumps in spring, but by the time the flower spikes bloom, the leaves are attenuated and spent.

In bud, the blooms are a subdued orange-red, looking for all the world like exotic goldfish with their spurred tails. The plant is a frail wisp - that is, until the buds open and the bright flowers grab your attention.

Here in Red Rock Canyon Park, an overgrown trail leading to a home-site burned out in the '93 fire sports a giant blue-green agave accompanied by dozens of scarlet larkspur plants.

Up close you can see how each flower is spangled with yellow marks on the two uppermost petals. The long hollow spur behind gives the flower its common name, larkspur.

Hummingbirds love the scarlet larkspur, with its fiery red color.

Just another wonderful wildflower growing in our beautiful Santa Monica Mountains.


shrink on the couch said...

I am a sucker for red blooms. And these are some real beauties.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I think I saw some of those on my last trip out west.

Thanks for reminding me!

Ashley said...

I love these posts!