Ahhhh, lupines – that sure sign that summer has come again to this gem of an island! Every June those pink, purple, and creamy lovelies pop up in ditches and neglected fields throughout this province. They remind me of long drives in the country and the excitement of school ending for another year. They remind me of last minute wedding preparations and our big day in June. They remind me of all the postcard perfect pictures that made me long for home when we lived afar. But all I’ve ever really known about them was that they were a hardy perennial that could take over your garden! Our girls love lupines too so we collected one while out driving a couple of weeks ago and sketched it in our nature journals. Just one because they are notoriously filled with bugs, and I didn’t want to bring home a bouquet of those! Here are some new things we learned about lupines in the process:
- The Big Leaf Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) is the only wild variety here in our province and was probably introduced from Western Canada in the early 1900s.
- They are very tolerant of infertile soil because they are capable of nitrogen fixation through a symbiotic relationship they form with the bacteria rhizobia on nodules on their roots. That means they can make use of nitrogen in the atmosphere instead of needing it in the soil. This also helps fertilize the soil for other plants.
- Lupines are a genus in the legume family, and some varieties are actually edible. Apparently “lupine beans” were popular with the ancient Romans!
Some people think lupines should be cultivated as a food source on a more global level, and perhaps with our society’s bent on seeking out the healthy victuals of our ancestors, it may happen. If lupine beans become the next ancient superfood to hit our plates, remember you heard it here first! 😉
6 thoughts on “Nature “did-you-knows?” ~ LUPINES edition”
Interesting. Is “our” variety edible, I wonder?
We never pick them anymore, either, but it’s because they seem to fade immediately.
I don’t think ours rates very high on the “edibility scale”. A lot of varieties contain bitter tasting alkaloids that can be toxic (apparently they can be removed by soaking the seeds first and changing out the cooking water). The “sweet” lupine varieties are the edible ones. I’d love to know what those taste like. 🙂
I never knew that about certain lupines being edible! We have lots and lots of lupines here of several different varieties–one of our first spring bloomers. I have to admit I have had a soft spot for lupines ever since reading Miss Rumphius. 🙂
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We’ve not read that one, but it sounds delightful. I just put a hold on it through our library’s website. Thanks for the tip!
I was just going to say something about Miss Rumphius! Celeste beat me too it! These are just GORGEOUS! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
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You brought back some memoies for me with your lupines. I remember them growing wild near where I grew up in Scotland. You might find this interesting: http://www.leavesnbloom.com/2011/08/perthshire-wildflowers-august-scotlands.html