lovely, lovely wild lupine….felt like I was in an alpine meadow instead of at a parking lot at Frances Slocum State Park. While I was struck, struck, struck by their beauty, it was like they were invisible to people intent on getting to their favorite fishing spot or seeing how loud they could shout, whch seems to becoming more and more popular as an outdoor thing.
Lupinus perennis (Wild Lupine)
Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme Cluster type: spike
[photo of flowers] 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: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate
[photo of leaves] 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.
Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod
[photo of fruit] The seed pod is up to 2 inches long, hairy, shaped like a typical pea pod, and turns black when mature. Each pod contains 2 to several seeds.
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), a non-native introduced 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.