Native Plant of the Week: Wild Lupine ~ Lupinus perennis

Wild Lupine ~ Lupinus perennis

Wild Lupine is in full bloom in our yard right now. This native Lupine is smaller than the non-native, naturalized Large-Leaved Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus), reaching heights of around 14 inches in our dry, sandy soil.

The palmately divided leaves are very attractive in their own right, offering a wonderful contrast to other native perennial foliage.

This is a great native for hot, dry sites and poor soils. Plant near the front or edge of your landscape so you can observe and enjoy all the different types of pollinators that visit the flowers.
Two species of Bumble Bees were visiting the flowers this week. Their large size makes nectaring on the flower a bit challenging, but their advantage over the smaller bees is they can easily pry apart the petals to reach inside the flowers.

The smaller Mason Bees (Osmia species) pry open the flowers with their rear legs, then use all six to keep it open so they can reach further inside the flower.

Mining Bees (Andrena species) also like visiting Wild Lupine flowers.
I also spotted a day flying Clearwing moth visiting the flowers. They will hover like Hummingbirds unfurling their long proboscis and inserting it into the flowers. With this sophisticated technique, there's no need for them to pry open the flowers.

Seeds form in hairy pods that are held upright on the stem. This is an easy plant to propagate from seed, cold stratify in moist sand in the fridge over the winter and scarify (scratch) the seed coat before planting in the spring.

Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP).
North American Plant Atlas. Chapel Hill, N.C.
Wild Lupine is native to eastern North America. See map for range.