Consistency in posting has been difficult for me (as you can tell!), but I’m back with Floriography Friday! Last time I posted a blog, it was about June’s flower of the month. This week, I’m focusing on July’s flower of the month (according to much of the Western Hemisphere), the delphinium.
Toxicity and Effect on the Ecosystem
First things first, although foraging for food outside is a cool thing many people are doing, DO NOT EVER eat a delphinium – no matter how beautiful it might make your salad look. Delphiniums are part of the highly toxic buttercup family ranunculaceae. If ingested, they can cause death within hours; and they’re known for killing cattle and other livestock in the early days of summer. They also go by the name of larkspur (though technically they aren’t exactly the same. Most people use the terms interchangeably.)
Though they’re toxic to mammals, other creatures love delphiniums! They draw in hummingbirds, bees, and a variety of other pollinators. Delphiniums grow well in Central Oregon (I have a few and their vivid blue-violet hue always makes me smile) because they’re relatively easy to cultivate. As one of the only naturally blue flowers, they’re also gorgeous in floral designs. They are an excellent choice for your “something blue” in your wedding bouquet…more on that later.
There are many myths and legends surrounding the delphinium. I won’t share them all, but here are five of my favorites:
1. The Greek word for “dolphin” gave delphiniums their name; the flower hooks at the top resembling a dolphin’s nose. A Roman myth says that Neptune, god of the sea, transformed the dolphin into flowers to save it from extinction.
2. An old Christian legend says these blue flowers sprung up from the blue tears the virgin Mary cried upon Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. (There are numerous other flowers said to have come from her tears as well; so you’ll see this particular belief surface often.)
3. During the Middle Ages, a legend circulated that this plant bloomed after a crew of brave warriors slew a fierce dragon. When they wiped the blue, highly venomous blood from their swords on the grass, a new flower popped up. This explained the toxic nature of the plant as well as its vivid blue hue. (Who doesn’t love a good dragon story?)
4. In Transylvania, farmers and ranchers planted the flowers around their barns. They believed the flowers would keep evil witches away from their animals. (There are several supposed magical connections to this flower as well.)
5. The exact details differ among tribes, but several Native American myths say a divine woman came down from the heavens to check on earth. As she did, bits of the sky fell down and landed in the ground. The sky-blue larkspur grew from the pieces.
Floriography of the Delphinium
Remember how at the beginning I said the names larkspur and delphinium can be used interchangeably? Most people wouldn’t be able to tell between the two, but in the language of flowers, some differentiation is helpful.
Larkspur has connotations of new love, open hearts, and ardent attachment. During the Victorian era, purple larkspur could mean “you are sweet” when given to a person, while pink larkspur meant “you are fickle”. White larkspur meant joy – usually in a circumstance or to be with someone.
Delphinium isn’t all different, but it does have heavier meanings toward possibilities. “Anything is possible”, “new opportunities”, “possibility” were all meanings for this flower. For example, a suitor might’ve sent a scarlet pimpernel with a ranunculus, meaning “will you meet me for a romantic rendezvous?”. If the recipient felt like playing coy, they could send a delphinium with a daylily “it’s possible”, the daylily means it was said in a flirtatious manner. (Sidebar: can you see how the language of flowers was so advanced they could even use flowers to convey the tone in which they wanted to communicate? Text messaging would be easier with this…it’s like the Victorian version of an emoji.)
Delphinium Floriography for Weddings
When used in a wedding, delphinium can be used to say “This is a new chapter”; and when paired with other flowers, the excitement of that moment can be conveyed as well. I use this flower often in my designs because I love the meaning and the vivid hue is an unexpected treat for the viewer.
So, there you have it. The delphinium is rife with lore, meaning, and beauty. Did you learn anything new? Would you use this gorgeous flower in your wedding or plant it in your garden to help you focus on the new possibilities each day affords? Let me know in the comments!
Stay safe & sane lovelies,