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Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society

Focusing on native plants and conservation in North Idaho


Species profile by Wendy Aeschliman

Common Name(s): Lupine, Wild Lupine

Pronunciation: Loo' pin

Family: Fabaceae/ Leguminosae:  Pea Family

Scientific Name:  Lupinus (many species)

Native/ Non-native:  Native

General Info: Generally a perennial forb, to 80 cm tall (2.6 ft).   Several smooth, hollow erect stems branch from a woody rootstock.  Blooms midsummer.

Native/ Non-native:  Native

Ecology:  Common along roadsides, clearings, meadows and open subalpine forests.

Range: Varies with species.

Leaves: Palmately compound leaves have the leaflets radiating from the end of the petiole, like fingers off the palm of a hand, e.g. cannabis (hemp).  6 to 8  lance-shaped leaflets are smooth above and hairy below.

Flowers:  Pea like, blue to purple, occasionally pinkish, in elongated clusters,  12 to 15 mm long, although varies with species.

Fruits/ Seeds:  Hairy pods.


  • Provides spectacular midsummer displays in subalpine meadows (see photo at right).

  • Considered a favorite food of marmots.

  • Lupine, as other legumes, enhances soil fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen into a useful form.  Nitrogen-fixing bacteria reside in nodules along the roots., converting atmospheric nitrogen into compounds the plants can use, thus they increase soil fertility in areas where nitrogen is limited.

  • Seeds can be toxic both to livestock and  humans, especially in larger quantity.

  • Good for soil stabilization.

Resources/ Links:

Plants of Southern Interior British Colombia and the Inland Northwest (Parish, Coupe, Lloyd), 1996


Above:  A black bear passes through a meadow near Schweitzer Resort, Sandpoint, Idaho, with a wonderful display of lupine.


Photos by Wendy Aeschliman