Close-up of the inflorescence of Nuttall's larkspur as seen about one-half mile downstream of Leidl Park where the old haul road crosses Dead Canyon Creek.......June 10, 2012.
Nuttall's larkspur is a perennial wildflower with one erect stem from 30-60 cm high arising from globose or ovoid, fleshy roots. The herbage ranges from smooth near the base to densely covered with short hairs above. The stem is not hollow and the leaves are mostly found on the stems. Individual leaves are long petioled and up to 10 cm wide, the primary divisions deeply cleft 4-6 times into linear-obtuse or acute lobes. The blades are smooth or sparsely haired below.
The inflorescence is a short, dense raceme of from 8-15 flowers. The sepals are dark blue, ovate to oval in shape, and range from 7-12 mm long with rounded to pointed tips. The slender, straight spur is roughly equal to longer than the sepals. The lower petals are a deep purplish-blue and are shallowly to deeply cleft. The upper petals are a lighter blue to white.
Nuttall's larkspur may be found on moist open ground and on basaltic cliffs. It is especially common on the gravelly outwash "prairies" which are remnants of prehistoric glaciation.
Nuttall's larkspur may be found west of the Cascade Range from Pierce and eastern Grays Harbor Counties in Washington south to Clackamas County in Oregon.
In the Columbia River Gorge it may found between the altitudes of 100'-4000' from near Crown Point east to near Mosier, OR.