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Fascinating Florets


In the unknown species seen here, the spur coils round. This tendency is seen to an even greater extent in D. bulleyanum, a species from China in which the spur coils like a ram's horn.

In quite a few species, the spur points upwards or curves upwards. How is the nectar retained in such spurs? More often, the spur curves downwards.

In D. cashmerianum the spur is inflated so that the flower looks more like an aconitum than a delphinium. This is probably an adaptation related to the climate of the high mountain region in which it grows, not an indication that it is closely related to aconitums.

This species is also unusual in having the flowers arranged in a cluster or corymb at the top of the stalk rather than having florets distributed along a stem to form a spike.

In the dwarf cultivar 'Blue Mirror' which is a form of D. grandiflorum var chinense, the spur is absent. The flower then looks like a blue 'Buttercup'. Notice that these flowers also lack petals.

The complete absence of a spur is very unusual in delphiniums but some species have only short spurs.


All these types of variation occur in the florets of hybrid garden delphiniums. Do you ever bother to look at the back of a flower to see what the spur is like?
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