Lupinus perennis (Wild Lupine)
|Also known as:||Sundial Lupine|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; dry sandy soil; fields, prairies, edges of woods|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||8 to 24 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are in a spike-like cluster to 8 inches long. Individual flowers are ¾ to 1 inch long and a typical pea-shape, on a short stalk. The lower parts of the flower are blue. The upper parts may be blue, or two-tone blue and purple, or blue and white. Both upper and lower parts have many darker blue veins running through them. The lower parts are forced open by insects to reveal a horn-shaped stamen. One plant has multiple spikes.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are divided into 7 to 11 leaflets, radiating from a central point at the end of a long stalk. Leaflets are hairy, up to 2 inches long and ½ inch wide, have rounded tips, often with a small sharp point at the apex, and taper at the base. Stems are hairy to varying degrees and may become smooth with age.
Wild Lupine is the only host plant for the Karner Blue butterfly caterpillar. Habitat loss has led to the decline in plants, and put the Karner Blue on the endangered species list. At Wild River State Park efforts have been made to increase the Lupine population, as Karner Blues have been seen just across the St. Croix River in Wisconsin. I wish them success. A similar species in Minnesota is Large-leaved Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus), native to western North America but introduced in the Midwest by gardeners, which has become invasive especially along the north shore of Lake Superior. It is overall a larger plant with taller spikes and 9 to 17 leaflets.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Chisago County and in a private garden in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?