Dec 22, 2010

Lupinus mysterious

I was just outside visiting my lovely, thriving, mildly blooming Lupine in the back yard. Which is a little weird because I'm pretty sure it's a spring-blooming annual species, and today is, uh, the second day of winter. The plant volunteered some time last year and was quite large by spring--I was delighted when it stayed green and lush and kept producing flowers right through summer. But it's still going strong, unfazed by short days, rain and a few freezes.  I believe it to be Lupinus succulentus, because as far as I can remember, that's the only kind of Lupine I've ever introduced to the yard except for a Lupinus albifrons that didn't live long enough to bloom, and a Lupinus arboreus I had in a wine barrel for a while until it cooked--but it had yellow flowers, and the big lovely lupine in my yard now has the familiar purple. I've had Lupinus succulentus show up from time to time, due to its inclusion in a wild flower seed mix I sowed a few years ago, when I was first starting native gardening, so I think the current Lupine is one of the grandchildren. I just don't know why it's still living--thriving, no less--at this stage of the year. But I'm not complaining! I'm quite curious to see how long it persists.


  1. It doesn't really look like L. succulentus to me - the leaves look too narrow, from what I can see in your photos. Could be L. albifrons, especially since it's not acting like an annual. What are its stems like? How tall and wide is it?

    L. succulentus has hollow stems that tend to split open in places because they'e just thin outer shells with a big space in the middle. It gets about two feet tall and wide.

    L. albifrons has a woody trunk and gets three or four feet tall and wide.

    L. arboreus sometimes has purple flowers, although I don't know how likely it is that your yellow-flowered strain would have led to purple descendants. I haven't grown L. arboreus, so I'm not sure what its distinguishing characteristics are.

  2. Hey, thanks for the info and ID suggestions! Silly of me to forget to describe its size--I took a picture to show its size, but then I realized the picture was blurry so I didn't end up using it. It is quite a big plant, I'd say 3-4 feet tall and about the same in width. I'm sure it isn't albifrons, because it doesn't have that spectacular silver shimmer to the leaves (I love that about L. albifrons). I did consider maybe it was a purple-colored spawn of the one L. arboreus I ever had, because that plant did spread seeds in pretty conspicuous fashion before it went to the great garden in the sky--I could hear the seed pods go SNAP every few minutes one hot June day. But I think it unlikely that a yellow-flowered parent would produce this purple flowered offspring; but I'm not a botanist, may be wrong. But I think the stems are like you describe for succulentus: hollow and pretty much green, not woody. I'm attempting to make some cuttings of it--I don't know if that really works with lupines, but I had to cut some of the branches out of the way of the footpath, so I figured "what the heck" and stuck them in potting mix--so far they look quite sturdy and I think they may just take root.

  3. I'm afraid I don't know my lupines very well, the only one I currently have is the stinging lupine, which this isn't. But hey, it's blooming! I'm surprised at some the two "spring bloomers" I have blooming now, carpenteria and giant coreopsis. Maybe our frigid November made them think that any season after that must be spring...

  4. Wow, Ive had no success growing lupines. You rock!

  5. Thanks for the comment! I've been a lazy blogger too long!