Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Lupinus perennis

Sundial lupine, Wild lupine

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Lupinus perennis (Sundial lupine)
Cressler, Alan
Showy, elongate clusters of purple, pea-like flowers top the 1-2 ft. stems of this perennial lupine. Blue, pea-like flowers are in an upright, elongated, terminal cluster on an erect stem with palmately compound leaves. Its leaves are palmately divided into 7-11 leaflets. Occasionally flowers range from pink to white.

The plant was once thought to deplete or wolf the mineral content of the soil; hence the genus name derived from the Latin lupus (wolf). Actually the plant and all the family enhances soil fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen into a useful form. In the south this flower has narrower leaflets and is often recognized as a separate species, Nuttals Lupine (L. nuttallii). Two southern species with undivided elliptic leaves are Spreading Lupine (L. diffusus), with blue flowers and a whitish spot on the standard (upper petal), and Hairy Lupine (L. villosus), a hairy plant with lavender-blue flowers and a red-purple spot on the standard. They are found from North Carolina to Florida and west to Louisiana. A species found in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado, Nebraska Lupine (L. plattensis), has blue flowers with a dark spot on the standard and paddle-shaped leaflets. L. polyphyllus is becoming extremely abundant in the Northeast, particularly Maine and adjacent Canada; it was introduced from the Northwest.

Image Gallery:

14 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Palmate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Legume
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul
Bloom Notes: Flowers rarely pink or white.


USA: AL , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , NH , NJ , NY , NC , OH , PA , RI , SC , TX , VT , VA , WV , WI , DC
Canada: NB , ON
Native Distribution: NH to s. Ont., n. IL, n. IN & e. MN, s. to FL & LA
Native Habitat: Sand hills & clearings; open woods

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Dry, sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: Requires good drainage, but is very adaptable.


Use Wildlife: Deer browse foliage. Birds and small mammals eat the seeds.
Warning: Plants in the genus Lupinus, especially the seeds, can be toxic to humans and animals if ingested. POISONOUS PARTS: Seeds. Toxic only if eaten in large quantities. Symptoms include respiratory depression and slow heartbeat, sleepiness, convulsions. Toxic Principle: Alkaloids such as lupinine, anagyrine, sparteine, and hydroxylupanine. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)

The plant and all the family enhances soil fertility by fixing atmospheric nitrogen into a useful form. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Karner Blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa sub. samuelis), Frosted Elfin butterfly (Callophrys irus)

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Lupinus perennis is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Frosted Elfin
(Callophrys irus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
(Microtia elva)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2014-09-04