Parish's Larkspur (Delphinium parishii Gray ssp. subglobosum (Wiggins) Lewis & Epling]

Parish's Larkspur (Delphinium parishii Gray ssp. subglobosum (Wiggins) Lewis & Epling]

Listing CNPS List 4 R-E-D Code 1-1-2

State/Federal. Status -- None RANUNCULACEAE Mar.-May

Global Rank G3T3? State Rank S?

Distribution: San Diego County, Riverside County, Imperial County; Baja California, Mexico

Habitat: Open Sonoran Desert Scrub is the general habitat of this larkspur. At Mountain Springs this herbaceous perennial grows with Nolina bigelovii; while at Canyon Sin Nombre it was observed on a partially shaded talus slope in sparsely vegetated desert terrain.

Known Sites: This showy larkspur was flowering well after a season of good rains at Mountain Springs near the Imperial County line. It was found in limited numbers near Canyon Sin Nombre. Numerous historical collections in the Anza Borrego Desert indicate a considerable range for this entity; however, the species is seldom encountered in dry years. Old reports are from Montezuma Valley, San Felipe Valley, Yaqui Well, Box Canyon, Pinyon Mountain, The Potrero, Agua Caliente Hot Springs, McCain Valley, and Mortero Palms. Herbarium specimens include sites 0.4 mile west of the Banner Queen Ranch, 0.5 mile south of Scissor's Crossing, near the foot of Sentenac Canyon, a stony fan at the head of Borrego Valley, at Warner's Hot Springs, the Campbell Ranch, near Cuyamaca Lake, and at the base of Mountain Springs Grade. Old biological reports note sites on the southern high desert such as 1.2 miles south of Bankhead Springs, east of Old George Mountain, in McCain Valley south of Lost Valley Road, 0.25 mile southwest of Boulevard, south of the Calexico Lodge and southeast of Manzanita, near Starship road south of Highway 94 near Manzanita, east of Bankhead Springs and north of the San Diego Arizona Eastern Railway line. These sites indicate Parish's Larkspur may be well represented in this region. However, given the variation within this species, taxonomic analysis should be conducted to compare the high desert plants in San Diego County to those occurring on the Mohave Desert, and those at lower elevations in Anza-Borrego State Park. One herbarium specimen examined is from Aguanga just north across the Riverside County line, and another from Ribbonwood on the north side of the Santa Rosa Mountains. A small population was observed in Nance Canyon close to Coyote Canyon Road southwest of Santa Rosa Mountain.

Eight herbarium specimens from Baja California are found at the San Diego Natural History Museum south to 30 8' North where collected by Moran (SD 88785) on the north slope of Cerro San Juan Del Dios.

Status: Parish's Larkspur populations are presumed stable, given the limited development within its historic range. At the higher transmontane elevations (above the hotter Colorado Desert lowlands), leaves of this species examinined in herbariums (previously identified as Parish's Larkspur) are sometimes similar to Delphinium parishii ssp. parishii from the Mohave Desert. Considering the higher general elevation of the Mohave, this may indicate ssp. parishii extends along the eastern crest of the mountains south into Baja California. Some specimens from similar elevations in Baja California also bear these leaf similarities to ssp. parishii. Additional taxonomic work is necessary.

Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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