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Toxic parts

All parts of the plant contain diterpene alkaloids and are highly toxic[1][2][3]. The plant is most toxic when it is young[4]. Ingestion of a lethal dose produces a feeling of excitement, followed by depression and extreme sensitivity of the nerves, followed by paralysis, a slowing of the pulse and finally death by asphyxia[5].

Edible uses

There are no edible uses listed for Delphinium staphisagria.

Material uses

A parasiticide is obtained from the leaves[6]. It is quite toxic and so is for external use only. The seed is used to make a potent insecticide, parasiticide and to destroy vermin[1][7][8][9][3]. It is used to kill head lice[3].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Stavesacre is a very poisonous plant that is rarely used in modern herbal medicine[3]. The seed is antispasmodic, cathartic, emetic and vermifuge[1][10]. The seeds cause a strong salivation if they are chewed and have been used in the treatment of toothache and other painful conditions of the throat and gums[5]. They are so strongly emetic and cathartic, however, that they are rarely used internally[1]. Externally, a decoction is used to treat itchy skin and parasites4]. The seed is very poisonous and should be used with great caution[1].

The plant has been used externally in the treatment of warts, lice and itches[5].

A homeopathic remedy is made from the seeds[5]. This is used in the treatment of a variety of ailments including toothache, injuries and headache[5].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow March in a cold frame or April outdoors. Keep moist and in a shady position until germination takes place[11]. Seed can also be sown either in a cold frame or in situ as soon as it is ripe in mid to late summer[11], though seedlings from the outdoor sowing can be killed in cold winters[K]. The seed has a limited viability so it should be stored in a sealed container at about 3°c[4]. Temperatures above 15°c inhibit germination[11]. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 9 weeks at 15°c[11].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Delphinium staphisagria. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in most soils and situations[1] but prefers a rich well-drained neutral to alkaline soil[1][4][3] and is intolerant of winter-wet soils[4]. Requires an open sunny position[12].

This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[4].

A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[13].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Delphinium staphisagria. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Delphinium staphisagria.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Delphinium staphisagria
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
  • Unknown part (Insecticide)
  • Unknown part (Parasiticide)
Medicinal uses
  • Unknown part (Antispasmodic)
  • Unknown part (Cathartic)
  • Unknown part (Emetic)
  • Unknown part (Homeopathy)
  • Unknown part (Odontalgic)
  • Unknown part (Sialagogue)
  • Unknown part (Vermifuge)
  • Unknown part (Warts)
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    1 x meters
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    2. ? Niebuhr. A. D. Herbs of Greece. Herb Society of America. (1970-00-00)
    3. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    4. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    5. ? Castro. M. The Complete Homeopathy Handbook. Macmillan. London. ISBN 0-333-55581-3 (1990-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.1 Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
    7. ? 7.07.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean. Hogarth Press ISBN 0-7012-0784-1 (1987-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide. Oxford University Press ISBN 0192176218 (1969-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Allan. H. H. Flora of New Zealand. Government Printer, Wellington. (1961-00-00)
    11. ? Bird. R. (Editor) Focus on Plants. Volume 5. (formerly 'Growing from seed') Thompson and Morgan. (1991-00-00)
    12. ? Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
    13. ? Hatfield. A. W. How to Enjoy your Weeds. Frederick Muller Ltd ISBN 0-584-10141-4 (1977-00-00)