By Janelle Eklund
It was mid to late summer and as we walked through the Boreal Forest new plants sprung from the forest floor. Clusters of purple flowers crowded the top of a long stemmed wild Delphinium. Each flower looked like it was wearing a bonnet with wings and a spike on top. At the mouth (center) of each flower the purple color morphed into white and looked like two white front teeth. Little white hairs spilled out of the mouth, accented by a purple background of petals. The leaves of the plant spread in a fan, each segment ending in sharp looking arrowhead type points.
Larkspur is a poisonous alkaloid plant and if ingested can cause upset stomach, nervousness, and depression. If eaten in large amounts it can even cause suffocation and death. As the plant matures the toxicity lessens but it is still poisonous.
I haven't found this plant to be too prolific in this area but maybe my wanderings just haven't been in the right places. In the places that it does live it can become very prolific after a fire, tree clearing or overgrazing.
Domestic delphiniums can get very tall and create a beautiful backdrop for a flower garden.
Enjoy the last vestiges of blooming plant life as summer fades into fall.
From my light to yours-
References: Plants of the Western Boreal Forest & Aspen Parkland by Johnson, Kershaw, MacKinnon, Pojar; Flora of Alaska and Neighboring Territories By Eric Hultén.
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.