Rockslide larkspur beginning to bloom (along with rosy plectritis: Plectritis congesta and gold stars: Crocidium multicaule) along the Eagle Creek Trail where there are open cliffs along the trail................April 13, 2012.
Rockslide larkspur is an attractive perennial wildflower with one to several much-branched stems arising from 15-35 cm high from a thick, woody, fibrous-rooted base. The stems are generally somewhat hollow. The herbage varies from smooth to densely haired or glandular-haired above. The leaves are largely crowded at the base of the plant. These are thick and fleshy in cross-section and range from 3-6 cm across, the margins 3-5 parted (nearly to the base of the blade) and each segment again cleft into 2-3 parts, the segments linear to oblong in shape with the tips rounded with a slightly pointed apex.
The inflorescence of 6-20 flowers makes up over one-half the height of the plant, and consists of a branched raceme or panicle, the branching giving the appearance of a broad, open inflorescence. The lower flowers and racemes are subtended by relatively large leaves. The pedicels below the flowers are thick and spread or ascend from the stem. The lower pedicels are often several times longer than the flowers they support. The 5 sepals are deep bluish-purple, the lower pair ranging from 12-16 mm long, the lateral pair obovate-oblanceolate in shape with abrubtly acute tip, and the spur ranging from 12-17 mm in length, roughly equaling the length of the uppermost sepal. The backs of the sepals range from smooth to finely pubescent or glandular-haired. The 5 petals are much smaller in size than the sepals and range from blue to white or pale yellow. Each has a deep narrow cut in the blade from 3-4 mm long. The blades of the petals are not dark veined as found in upland larkspur. The upper petals are widest at their base while the lower petals are wider near the middle and are roughly orbicular in shape.
Rockslide larkspur may be found on talus slopes and in rocky areas in subalpine to alpine habitats although it is at sea level on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge.
Rockslide larkspur may be foundin the Cascade Mts. from southern Chelan County in Washington south to Yakima County, Washington, and again in the Cascades of central Oregon. It may also be found in the Olympic Mts.
In the Columbia River Gorge it may be found at an altitude of 4200' on Silver Star Mt., and on cliffs at the mouth of Oneonta Gorge, along Eagle Creek, at at McCord Creek.