Thursday , November 23 2017

Lupine




  • The beauty of Lupines are not just in their flowers.
     

    Common Name: Lupine

    Scientific Name: Lupinus species
    Family: Fabaceae (the Legume or Pea family)

    Edible Lupine seeds being developed in South America.

    Description:
    Lupines are beautiful wildflowers found almost around the globe. Known primarily for their showy spikes of flowers in blues, purples, reds, yellows, and white, these legumes put nitrogen back into the soil (natural fertilizer), host a number of beneficial insects, can act as a groundcover to protect top soil, and some species even produce edible seeds. A brilliant addition to the home and Forest Garden.

    European Yellow Lupine (Lupinus luteus)
     

    History:
    Found almost all over the world, there are likely native or at least naturalized Lupines close to where you live. They have been used as food plants likely for thousands of years. The Romans were fond of the seeds, but have been used by most Mediterranean cultures. The South and North American species were also used by natives there as well. More recently, there has been a growing trend to use Lupines as a cash crop alternative to soy, livestock forage and feed crop, as well as developing a wide variety of ornamental flowering varieties.
     
    Trivia:

    • Edible species include Wild or Sundial Lupine (Lupinus perrenis), Seashore Lupine (Lupinus littoralis),  Blue Lupine (Lupinus nootkatensis), another Blue Lupine (Lupinus augustifolius), and White Lupine (Lupinus albus), but the best is likely the Pearl Lupine (Lupinus mutabilis).
    • There are larger species in the Lupine genus… the most common large species being the Tree Lupine or Yellow Bush Lupine (Lupinus arboreus) that grows to over 6 feet (2 meters) tall.
    • Lupines are an important larval food for many butterflies and moths.
     
    Lupines come in a wide variety of colors.
     

    USING THIS PLANT
    Primary Uses:

    • Ornamental flowering plant (wildflower)
    • Edible seeds in some species – used as cooked bean substitute, can be roasted then ground into a powder (NOTE: seeds contain a bitter toxin that can easily be leached out by soaking the seeds in water overnight, and up to 3 days) and discarding the soaking water. 
    • Some species produce an edible oil from the pressed seeds
    Secondary Uses:

    • Nitrogen fixing plant (puts nitrogen back into the soil) – inoculated with leguminous bacteria.
    • General insect (especially bees) nectar plant
    • Provides shelter for parasatoid wasps (beneficial wasps that prey on plant pests)
    • Lacewings (beneficial insects) prefer to lay eggs on this plant
    • Dynamic Accumulator (Phosphorus, Nitrogen)
    • Groundcover – space plants about 1 foot (30 centimeters) apart
     
    Yield: Not applicable
    Harvesting: Not applicable
    Storage: Not applicable
     
    Many beneficial insects are attracted to Lupines.
     

    DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT
    AHS Heat Zone: No reliable information available
    Chill Requirement: No reliable information available
     
    Plant Type: Small to Medium-sized, Clumping Herbaceous Perennial
    Leaf Type: Deciduous
    Forest Garden Use: Herbaceous Layer or Groundcover Layer (depending on the species) 
    Cultivars/Varieties: Many varieties available.
     
    Pollination: Self-Pollinating/Self-Fertile – pollinated by bees
    Flowering: May-July depending on the variety and USDA Zone where it is planted
     
    Life Span: No reliable information available, but if conditions are fair to good, Lupines will self-reseed.

    Harvesting Lupine flowers in Detroit – 1938
     

    PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT
    Size: 1-4 feet (30-120 centimeters) tall and 1-3 feet (30-90 centimeters) wide
    Roots: Fibrous network of roots
    Growth Rate: Medium – Fast
     
    Amazing photo of a field of wild Lupines near a church.
     
    Close-up of Lupine leaves – natural water catchers!
     

    GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT
    Light: Prefers full sun
    Shade: Tolerates light shade
    Moisture: Dry to Medium soils
    pH: most species prefer acidic to near neutral soil (3.5 – 6.5)
     
    Propagation: By seed (needs scarification) or by Spring cuttings of soft, basal growth. Division is reported to be difficult.
     
    Maintenance: None
     
    Concerns: Poisonous – There are many varieties of lupines that have toxic seeds, and the seeds can become contaminated with a fungus that produces toxins as well. If you are going to eat the seeds, really know what you are doing.
     

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