The British Larkspur Fact File
Latin name: Consolida part of the ranunculaceae family
Common name: Larkspur – Annual Delphinium
Availability: June to September
Colour range: White, pink, blue, mauve
Best buying days at New Covent Garden Flower Market: Monday and Thursday
The Origins of Larkspur
Larkspur is the name commonly given to the annual delphinium, but rather confusingly it is often used interchangeably to mean delphinium.
Larkspur originates from parts of Western Europe, the Mediterrannean and Asia and gets its name from the shape of the individual flowerhead.
Look closely enough and one of the sepals hooks backwards like a spur – if you have good, eyesight, good imagination and the chance to examine a lark at close quarters.
In the language of flowers, the larkspur is said to denote fickleness, which makes it perhaps not the ideal flower for a first date or a wedding anniversary.
Personally, we prefer the more positive interpretation of open-hearted, levity, lightness.
Larkspur as Cut Flowers
The larkspur grows to around 90cm tall and its towering spires hold dozens of white, pink or blue flowerheads along its stem.
It has attractive, feathery foliage at the base of the stem, although this tends to be discarded in favour of the drama of the flower spikes.
It is all about looks with larkspur and the delphinium: they are both unscented
Larkspur are very versatile flowers. Not as tall as their delphinium cousins, they add the perfect height for gift and wedding bouquets and look magnificent in vase arrangements at summer parties and weddings.
Some florists cut them short for romantic hand-ties or use the individual flowerheads for more intricate work.
See how Zita Elze was inspired to use larkspur in a haute couture gown, a painterly vase arrangement and a simple, elegant bouquet for British Flowers Week here.
Larkspur also dries well, retaining its colour and form for use in dried flower arrangements.
Every single part of the larkspur is toxic if you ingest it, so do not consider it for an afternoon snack.
It is enough to give a human terrible stomach pain and spasms, but – interestingly enough - can kill cattle.
The peak season for larkspur runs from June to September, depending on the weather in any given year.
When you’re buying, you are looking for good strong stems, clean, fresh green foliage and spikes that hold their flowers well.
About a third of the flowers should be open, and if the flowerheads have started to drop, avoid them like the plague. This is a sure sign of ethylene damage.
Larkspur are relatively delicate and short-lived, but will last a good 7 to 10 days if looked after well.
They are susceptible to ethylene, which will make the flowers go over particularly quickly, so do keep your larkspur away from the fruit bowl.
So, here are some top tips for ensuring that your British flowers last as long as possible:
- ensure that your vase is scrupulously clean so that there are no bacteria lurking around
- remove any leaves that would be below the water line to stop any rot
- trim the flower stems to the preferred length
- arrange the stems in your clean vase filled with fresh water mixed with the flower food provided
- keep your flowers out of direct sunlight, away from radiators, drafts and even from your fruit bowl (ethylene shortens vase life)
- trim the stems and top up the vase every day
Where to buy British Larkspur in the Flower Market
The peak season for British larkspur is the months of July and August, depending on the season, of course. During this period, the main deliveries come fresh into the New Covent Garden Flower Market from the growers for Monday and Thursday morning trading.
Key wholesalers of British Larkspur include:
If you have any top tips on British larkspur, we would love to hear from you. Simply write your comments in the box below.