Lupinus luteus Lupinus luteus

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Narrow-leaved Lupine

Lupinus angustifolius

  • Name also: Blue Lupine, Narrow-leaf Lupine, Narrowleaf Lupine, Narrow-leafed Lupine, Narrowleaved Lupine,
  • Family: Pea Family – Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
  • Growing form: Annual herb.
  • Height: 30–60 cm (12–25 in.). Stem smoothly haired.
  • Flower: Corolla zygomorphic, bright pale blue or sometimes white, 11–13 mm (0.45–0.52 in.) long. Petals 5; the upstanding the ‘standard’, the lateral two the ‘wings’, the lower two united to form the ‘keel’, overall shape of corolla being butterfly-like. Calyx bilabiate, upper lip clearly shorter than lower, deeply lobed. Stamens 10, filaments with fused bases. A single carpel. Inflorescence a long raceme terminating stem.
  • Leaves: Alternate, long-stalked, stipulate. Palmate leaves with 7–9 leaflets, narrowly linear, blunt, with entire margins.
  • Fruit: 4–6 cm (1.6–2.4 in.) long, short-hairy, yellowish brown–black, 4–6-seeded pod (legume).
  • Habitat: Fields, gardens, roadsides, wasteland, harbours. Sometimes ornamental.
  • Flowering time: June–July.

Narrow-leaved lupine’s name comes from the Latin word Lupus, meaning ‘wolf’, to which the ancient botanist Plinius compared the greedily spreading plant. He was talking about southern European annual species including narrowleaf lupine. They have a millennia-old history as land-improving, fodder and nutritional plants in the Mediterranean area. In the Finnish climate they are unable to ripen their seeds, but it has been tried out as an organic green manure. In Russia lupine seeds have long been used as a common replacement for coffee and this custom also reached Ladoga Karelia, which used to be part of Finland. Its old names, meaning coffee-bean and coffee lupine, are a testament to this. Especially during the First World War the Germans were very active in experimenting with narrow-leaved lupine’s useful properties and they perceived its great potential. There is a story about a lupine dinner that was held in Hamburg in 1918 in which all the food – the soup, steak, margarine and cheese, as well as the aperitifs and after-dinner coffee – were all made from lupine.

Nowadays narrow-leaved lupine is mainly grown in Finland as an ornamental that occasionally escapes and might grow on various kinds of waste ground. Its leaflets are clearly narrower than its relative garden lupine (large-leaved lupine, L. polyphyllus).

Yellow Lupine & White Lupine

Lupinus luteus & Lupinus albus

Yellow lupine (annual yellow-lupin) and white lupine (field lupine) can be found mainly in the flower bed and only occasionally in the wild – they can sometimes be found growing on waste ground and near loading areas. Their flowers form a slightly more compact raceme than garden lupine.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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