Blooming in late spring and early summer, the lupine (or lupin in Europe, Australia and New Zealand) is one of the most elegant and majestic wild flowers here. It greets you in the parks, along the sidewalks, and stand tall in the meadows and slopes. They spring up in our backyard too.
Lupines come in blue, purple, red, yellow, white or two-colored flowers, and reach up to six feet. Part of the pea family, there are over 190 species worldwide, with at least 20 varieties in Washington State.
The name lupine comes from the Latin word for wolf as the lupine was thought to ‘wolf’ minerals from the soil. Fact is, lupines help fertilize soil by taking nitrogen in the air for the other plants. Hence, it is a good plant to grow in your garden next to crops that need nitrogen such as tomatoes, peppers, kale and okra. In the wild, you often find them growing next to berry plants, providing the nitrogen the berries need.
Lupines are primarily pollinated by bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The blue lupine is the hosts for larvae of the Karner blue butterflies and is its main source of food during the caterpillar stage.
Interestingly, the ancient Romans and Egyptians used lupines as a source of food, and today, the seed of the lupine is still used to be ground into flour and eaten as a bean. However, if you have a dog, it is best to keep it away from lupines. Consumption the lupine flower has resulted in nausea and vomiting in our canine friends.
For more information about lupines:
The, Editors Of Encyclopedia Britannica, and n.d. Lupine | Plant. Available at https://www.britannica.com/plant/lupine
Lupine Facts. n.d. Available at https://www.softschools.com/facts/plants/lupine_facts/1153/#:~:text=Most species of lupine grow,on the spike above leaves [Accessed 22 June 2020].
Interesting Facts about Lupins | Just Fun Facts. n.d. Available at http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-lupins/ [Accessed 22 June 2020].