Lupinus polyphyllus (Large-leaved Lupine)
|Also known as:||Western Lupine, Big-leaf Lupine|
|Life cycle:||annual, perennial|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; fields, roadsides|
|Bloom season:||May - July|
|Plant height:||2 to 4 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: none MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A spike-like raceme 6 to 18 inches long of ½-inch pea-shaped flowers on stalks about ½ inch long. Flowers are typically blue to violet, but may be pink, white, or 2-tone. The upper petal (standard) curls or folds back on the sides and is a bit smaller than the lateral wings below it. The raceme may be tightly packed or looser, the flowers spiralling or nearly whorled around the stem.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are palmately compound in groups of 9 to 17. Leaflets are 2 to 5 inches long, to 1 inch wide, toothless, hairless on the upper surface, silky hairy on the underside, pointed at the tip, tapering at the base, on a long stalk. Stems are smooth and green.
Notes:Large-leaved Lupine is native to the Western US and in its native habitat, pretty consistently has blue-violet flowers. It was introduced to Minnesota by gardeners, and is also the dominant parent of a popular cultivar known as the Russell hybrid, which has additional colors including white, pink, red, purple, and yellow as well as bi-colored flowers. These have not only been known to escape cultivation, but were intentionally planted along roadsides, especially along the north shore of Lake Superior, where large mono-cultures have been formed and are now spreading west and south. Apparently they've done same thing in New Zealand, where it has also become invasive, and rumor has it L. polyphyllus has been introduced to Iceland with similar results (heavy sigh). Yes, it can be quite striking and many people have told me how pretty those roadsides look, but that doesn't make it any less destructive. A similar species is the MN native Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis), which is an overall smaller plant with 7 to 11 leaflets, and whose natural range is primarily limited to southeastern and east central Minnesota.
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Photo by K. Chayka taken in Aitkin County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin and St. Louis counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?