LUPINE - A Purple Contrast Amid the Colors

By Dave Hanks

In Texas this is their state flower, but it is named differently. They call the flowers Bluebonnets. It is a plant that is most common on western ranges in dry, well drained soils. It is a poor competitor and so does well where other plants have been grazed or destroyed. The plant, also, has a low toxic nature that protects it from being grazed.

My Granddaughter, who loves wildflowers, is very attracted to this flower. In fact itís the first wildflower she learned the name of. She fell in love with it on a trip to Alaska, and still has a dried specimen two years later. The beautiful spike of many pea-like buds is most appealing and a field of it adds a purplish hue to the landscape in late spring and summer. It is a perennial that is a member of the Pea Family. The compound leaves consist of oval leaflets that radiate from a central point. Once acquainted with the plant, itís easy to identify it by the leaves, even when itís not in bloom. Hairy seed pods will erupt when mature and throw seeds up to a yard or two from the parent plant.

I have seen this flower in most of my travels on the western part of this continent Ė even in Alaska, where the plant is a much deeper purple color and the blossoms are much larger. In fact, the colors are so rich that the species takes on (seemingly) added life.

There are several sub-species, some even have a yellowish hue Ė which can be found in the Copper Basin Ė close to Sun Valley. (p> Domesticated varieties will add extra brilliance to your yardís flower beds.

(A brilliant spike of Alaska Lupine)