The birthday flower of July is the lovely Larkspur, which symbolizes carefree summer days, feeling lighthearted, and just having fun. Larkspur is a highly desirable cut flower with tall spikes of colorful petals that look as perfect in a cut glass vase on the dining room table as they do sitting in a rustic basket or bucket at a casual backyard party.
Many people confuse larkspur plants with delphinium plants. Although they look similar and are both members of the buttercup family, larkspur are annuals with more delicate flowers in shades of white, pink and lavender. Delphinium are perennials with more substantial flowers in shades of purple, blue, red, yellow and white.
Larkspur blooms from early spring through late summer with flowers that can range in size from a few inches to several feet long in the meadowland species. In Shakespeare's time, Larkspur was also called lark's heel, lark's claw and knight's spur.
Larkspur in History
Larkspur grows throughout the Northern Hemisphere and also in high mountain areas of tropical Africa. The Baker's larkspur and yellow larkspur are native to California and are both federally listed endangered species. Only a few plants of Baker's larkspur remain after they were almost entirely wiped out by road crews.
The larkspur flower is mentioned frequently in mythology. Greek legend tells us that Achilles' mother requested that her son's armor be given to the bravest warrior during the Battle of Troy. To the dismay of the brave warrior Ajax, the armor was awarded to Ulysses. This so upset Ajax that he threw himself on his sword and small blue larkspur flowers grew up everywhere drops of his blood hit the ground.
Colors and Symbolism
Larkspur were very popular gift flowers in Victorian times. In general, the flowers symbolize an open heart and can be associated with strong romantic feelings. Here are some more specific petal color meanings:
- Pink larkspur flowers represent fickleness.
- White blossoms signify a happy-go-lucky nature.
- Purple represent first love and a sweet disposition.
Fun Facts about Larkspur
- In Transylvania, dried larkspur was placed in stables to keep witches from casting spells on the animals.
- In England, larkspur flowers were used to cure ailments and in Summer Solstice celebrations.
- Native Americans and European settlers made blue dye from larkspur flowers.
- The most ancient use of larkspur flowers was to drive away scorpions.
There is so much to love about the long, lazy months of summer. Giving a lovely bouquet of larkspur as a birthday present is a wonderful way to share the joy of summer with someone special.