Content Detail

Native to the Eastern United States, tall larkspur tends to grow on wooded hillsides. This 2 to 6-foot plant blooms light purple in late spring to early summer on upright stems. A large, sturdy plant, tall larkspur will tolerate more shade than the garden varieties and reseeds easily when happy.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, Wet soil
  • Tolerances Clay soil, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early summer, midsummer, late summer
  • Flower color and fragrance Fragrant, Pink
  • Shape or form Narrow, Upright
  • Growth rate Fast
  • Wildlife Insect pollinators

Size and method of spreading:

Queen of the prairie typically grows to 6 to 8 feet tall and spreads 3 to 4 feet wide. It readily self-seeds and also forms colonies of clones from underground stem structures (rhizomes). It is best to divide queen of the prairie in the spring, which is also when it is best to sow seeds in containers. 

Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)

Queen of the prairie is native to the Northeastern United States into a large portion of the Midwest. C-value: 10. 

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

Queen of the prairie does not provide nectar for pollinators. However, bees are important pollinators of these plants, and beetles and flies feed on the pollen. 

Leaf description:

Nonflowering stems grow from the base of queen of the prairie, and what appear to be one to seven individual leaves on those stems are actually leaflets that make up a compound leaf. The leaflets are arranged like a feather (pinnately compound). The terminal leaflets are more rounded with seven to nine deeply cut lobes. The lateral leaflets have two to three deeply cut lobes. The long stems that bear the flowers have leaflike structures (stipules) that are widely spaced along the length. These stipules have earlike appendages (auricles) at their bases that partially surround the stem. 

Flower description:

The flowers of queen of the prairie occur on individual stalks that attach to branching stems, with the lateral branches exceeding the length of the central branches in a gobletlike form (panicle inflorescence). The flowers mature from the bottom to the top. Each flower has five to 15 stringlike parts (stamen) protruding from the five egg-shaped (ovate) pink petals. The stamen give the inflorescence a soft, fuzzy appearance. 

Fruit description:

The fruits of queen of the prairie are small, less than one-half inch. They are dry, smooth, red at maturity, and single-seeded (achenes). Unlike the related queen of the meadow, the fruit of queen of the prairie is not twisted.

Plant care:

Queen of the prairie prefers rich soils that are moist to wet, as they are not drought tolerant. In warmer climates, queen of the prairie performs best in partial shade. Deadheading will not extend blooming but may help reduce self-seeding. 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Queen of the prairie does not have major issues with pests or disease. This is a deer-resistant perennial.

Donate

Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift