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This month’s Wicked Seed installment is the birth flower of July, the Larkspur. Named for its resemblance of the crooked claw of a Lark, this tall Delphinium flowers comes in a range of pinks, red and whites but it is most popularly known for its vibrant purple and blue tones.
Originating in the Mediterranean area, the Larkspur traveled north to the UK in the 1500s and has been recorded to be brought over to the Americas by the 1600s, quickly naturalizing and spreading around its new home in fields and roadside pastures. Despite the entire plant being toxic, their brillant colors made this plant wildly popular in romantic cottage gardens. The roots and seeds are said to be the most dangerous part of this plant (although the plant itself becomes less toxic as their blooming season goes on) containing neuromuscular blockers causing those who ingest it to go into cardiac arrest and some recorded seizures, usually killing them in a few hours. Similar to many of the Wicked Seeds plants, part of the Larkspur is also ground down and can be used for medicines to heal wounds and treat bug bites, and studies are being done about its use to treat neurological disorders.
Cattle are the most common victims of the Larkspur and ranchers have to rotate pastures with the seasons to keep their livestock from the plants in its most potent stages, but sometimes can send in a secret weapon: sheep. Domesticated sheep are immune to the Larkspurs toxins and are commonly sent out ahead of cattle to graze through the Larkspur patches making way for the rest of the livestock in the area.