Lupinus is a genus of about 500 species of flowering plants in the Fabaceae family, native to the Mediterranean, North Africa, Australasia and Americas. The genus contains both annual and perennial species.
These striking plants have stiff, erect flower spikes that emerge from horizontal foliage. The flowers are pea-like and grow in large, crowded racemes. They are perfect for attracting bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.
The genus name comes from the Latin word for wolf (“lupus”), due to the mistaken belief that these plants depleted minerals from the soil with a tendency to ravage the land on which they grow.
Lupine flowers symbolize happiness, creativity and imagination.
Interesting facts about Lupinus:
Lupinus in Australia
Australia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of this plant. The main varieties grown in Australia are Lupinus angustifolus and Lupinus albus.
In Australia, Lupins are the major pulse crop, having a strong domestic as well as export market. The term “pulse crops” refers to those plants which are cultivated mainly for dry seeds that are used as both human food and animal feed.
Benefits and Uses
The seeds of this plant have been used as food since the Roman Empire.
The seeds of some species, known as lupin beans or lupini beans, are perfect for those who want a rich source of proteins and carotenoids. However, dried lupini beans are not edible and can, in fact, be harmful if eaten raw.
Some species of Lupinus are cultivated to feed livestock and poultry, due to their high content in good quality protein. Lupins are safe and cost effective source of high protein feed for livestock as an alternative to soybeans.
All the Lupines are nitrogen fixers, which means they take nitrogen from the air and “fix” it in the soil, improving the health of the soil simply by growing there. They have the ability to capture atmospheric nitrogen and “fix” it in nodules on their roots when the proper bacteria are present in the soil, making it available to other plants. In this way, they share their nitrogen with other plants, helping them to survive in poor conditions.
The flowers are usually blue or purple, but sometimes pink, yellow and white.
Lupinus grows from 30 cm to 1,5 m (1 to 5 ft) tall, depending on species.
Lupinus grows best in well drained, neutral to slightly acidic soil. The ideal pH is between 5.5 and 7.0.