A 4-5 ft., shrub-like perennial with numerous short branches bearing silky, dark-green, palmately compound foliage. The pea-like flowers are usually yellow and occur on 6 in. spikes. Sometimes the flowers are lilac to blue or mixed. A large, round, bushy plant with palmately compound leaves and showy, sweet-scented, cone-like racemes of usually yellow pea flowers held just above the foliage at ends of short branches. Flowers occasionally violet or blue.
Lupines were once believed to be wolf-like, devouring soil nutrients (the genus name comes from Latin lupus, meaning wolf). In fact, they prefer poor soil, which they do not further deplete. Tree Lupine, one of the most handsome species in the genus, grows rapidly, and its deep roots make it an effective and beautiful stabilizer of shifting coastal dunes; portions of San Francisco that were once unstable sand were reclaimed by Tree Lupine. However, its effectiveness at stabilizing coastal dunes has led to its introduction and subsequent invasion of areas north of San Francisco Bay where the species has pushed out native species and formed monocultures. The California Invasive Plant Council has declared Tree Lupine an invasive species outside its native range.
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
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