Lupine Facts

Lupine Facts
Lupine is a type of flowering plant that belongs to the pea family. There are around 200 species of lupine. Most of them originate from North and South America. Lupine can survive in various climates. It prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soil and areas that provide enough sun such as fields, open forests, savannas, sand dunes and areas near the roads. Lupine is classified as invasive in some parts of the world due to ability to quickly occupy new habitats and disturb growth of native plant species. People cultivate lupine in ornamental purposes and as a source of food.
Interesting Lupine Facts:
Most species of lupine grow as herbaceous plants that can reach 1 to 5 feet in height.
Lupine has grey-green leaves covered with soft, silver hairs. Leaf blade consists of 5 to 28 narrow, pointed leaflets.
Flowers grow in dense clusters or open whorls on the spike above leaves. Lupine produces blue, purple, red, yellow, white or two-colored flowers.
Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds are main pollinators of the flowers.
Fruit of lupine is hairy, soybean-like, curled pod.
Pod is filled with up to 20 seed that are released via fast, explosive split of the pod. Seed usually land few feet away from the mother plant.
Survival of Karner blue butterfly in the wild depends on the blue lupine. It lays eggs on the blue lupine to overwinter. Caterpillar hatches during the spring and uses leaves of blue lupine as a major source of food. It grows and transform into pupa. Butterfly emerges from the pupa, ready to start the cycle all over again.
Name lupine originates from the Latin word "lupus" which means "wolf". It refers to the old belief that lupine exhausts nutrients and ravages land like a wolf.
Despite its name, lupine is actually able to improve quality of the soil. It lives in symbiosis (mutual beneficial relationship) with nitrogen-fixing bacteria that enrich soil with nitrogen.
Lupine is often planted near the squash, cucumber and broccoli to improve quality of the soil and facilitate growth of these plants.
Ancient Romans and Egyptians cultivated lupine as a source of food.
Seed of lupine are still popular and used as an ingredient of various sweet and savory dishes around the world. They are rich source of proteins, anti-oxidants and dietary fibers. Seed can be consumed as a bean or it can be ground into flour. Pickled lupine seed are popular in the North and South America.
Seed contain alkaloids (group of chemicals) that can induce intoxication of people. It needs to be soaked in the water and thermally processed before consumption.
White, yellow and blue lupines are cultivated as a source of food for the cattle and poultry around the world.
Lupine can grow as annual (lifespan: one year) or perennial plant (lifespan: more than 2 years).

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