Fabaceae-lupine-ann2018-01-24T12:27:53+00:00

Fabaceae: Pea Family — Annual Lupines

Most lupines are easily recognized as such with their distinct clusters of flowers in spikes, sometimes short, sometimes quite tall. Leaves are typically palmately compound with leaflets ranging from the very narrow to the comparatively broad. If in doubt, it is useful to note whether the flowers are in whorls around the stem or not.  It can also be critical to look at the keel to see the pattern of hairs.  Some are ciliate on both the top and bottom of the keel; some have hairs only near the claw (base), others only near the tip. Photographs of many of these appear below.

Spider Lupine / Bentham’s Annual Lupine  – Lupinus benthamii

Blooms:

Mar–May

Plant Height:

2–7 dm

Flower Size:

Large cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Rocky slopes, open areas, outer coast ranges

Notes:

Found only in the southern parts of the outer coast ranges and common along the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road just west of Fort Hunter Liggett, this looks at first sight like a bush lupine but is in fact an annual. It is easily identified by its tall clusters of bluish-purple flowers and the very slender, thread-like leaflets that give the plant its common name. Flowers may be but are not necessarily whorled.  Keels are ciliate along the lower margin near the claw.

Miniature Lupine / Lindley’s Annual Lupine  – Lupinus bicolor

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

1–4 dm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Heavy soils, many communities

Notes:

A low, fairly inconspicuous plant, often growing with and sometimes confused with immature specimens of Sky Lupine (Lupinus nanus). The flower clusters are smaller and the white banner spot on the keel is taller than it is wide (the opposite of Sky Lupine) and wraps around less deeply.  Flowers are whorled with shorter pedicels toward the top. The keel is generally ciliate on the upper margin near the pointed tip. Miniature Lupine can also be confused with the much less common Big Pod Lupine (Lupinus pachylobus) but, apart from anything else, the size of the fruits and seeds of the latter allow them to be distinguished without too much difficulty.

Bajada Lupine  – Lupinus concinnus

Blooms:

Mar–May

Plant Height:

1–3 dm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry open disturbed places

Notes:

A small plant with decumbent to erect stems, its most characteristic feature lies in the long, spreading hairs covering its stem and leaves. Leaves have 5–9 leaflets 1-3 cm long. The inflorescence is a dense spiral, up to 9 cm tall, of pink to purple (occasionally white) flowers with some flowers also appearing on lower leaf axils. The banner spot is white or yellowish. The keel is generally glabrous.

Stinging Lupine  – Lupinus hirsutissimus

Blooms:

Mar–May

Plant Height:

2–8 dm

Flower Size:

Large cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open sunny, often disturbed places

Notes:

This is one of the more easily recognized lupines. It has bright pink to magenta flowers, a very hairy stem and hairy leaves with a bumpy or blistered appearance and 5–8 broad leaflets. The stems and leaf hairs can deliver an unpleasant sting so the plant is best handled with care.  The flowers are not whorled, growing on either side of the stem on short pedicels. The keel is ciliate on the lower margin between the middle and the claw.

Chick Lupine  – Lupinus microcarpus var. densiflorus

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

1–8 dm

Flower Size:

Large cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Clay soils, common on roadsides

Notes:

This is the only California lupine with predominantly white or cream-colored flowers and so unmistakable. Both calyx and bracts have sparse, appressed to spreading hairs. Fruits are concentrated on one side of the stem. The keel is ciliate on the upper margin near the claw.

Chick / Valley Lupine  – Lupinus microcarpus var. microcarpus

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

1–8 dm

Flower Size:

Large cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Clay soils, dry places

Notes:

Although the same genus as Chick Lupine (var. densiflorus), this has several material differences. First the color of the flowers is typically pink to purple.  Secondly, the fruits are not concentrated on one side of the stem.   Thirdly, both calyx and bracts have denser, long shaggy hairs.

Sky Lupine  – Lupinus nanus

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

1–6 dm

Flower Size:

Large cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Open or disturbed areas

Notes:

The most common of the lupines in the Outer Coast Ranges, sometimes found in great profusion.  The flowers are blue-purple with a purple-dotted, narrow white banner spot which, as in other lupines, turns reddish or violet after pollination.  The keel is ciliate on the upper margin near the tip.

Big Pod Lupine  – Lupinus pachylobus

Blooms:

Mar–May

Plant Height:

1.5–4 dm

Flower Size:

Small cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Grassy slopes

Notes:

Similar to Miniature Lupine (Lupinus bicolor), this can be distinguished by its large, densely hairy fruits which are 3 cm long and 6–9 mm wide (as against 1–3 cm long and 3–6 mm wide for Miniature Lupine). Seeds also are larger, 4–5 mm long (twice the size of the Miniature Lupine’s seeds). The keel is blunt and glabrous.

Harlequin Lupine  – Lupinus stiversii

Blooms:

Apr–June

Plant Height:

1–5 dm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Above 550 m in gravelly or sandy areas

Notes:

Uncommon but unmistakable with is 3–8 cm tall, multi-colored inflorescence with a yellow banner, rose to purple wings and whitish keel.  The keel is ciliate on both margins from the middle to the claw.

Arroyo Lupine  – Lupinus succulentus

Blooms:

Feb–May

Plant Height:

2–10 dm

Flower Size:

Large cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Grassy flats & slopes

Notes:

Like Broad-leaved Lupine (Lupinus latifolius), this has broad leaves, but leaflets are fewer (6–9) and smaller (2–6 cm).  It is a smaller plant and its inflorescence is both shorter (< 15 cm), much deeper purple and less open than that of Broad-leaved Lupine.  The banner is yellowish-white, turning magenta after pollination. The keel is ciliate on both margins near the claw.

Nuttall’s Annual Lupine  – Lupinus truncatus

Blooms:

Mar–May

Plant Height:

2–3(5) dm

Flower Size:

Large cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Openings in chaparral and woodland

Notes:

A fairly common and distinctive lupine with its slender, very open inflorescence with magenta to dark purple flowers and leaves with narrow leaflets with more or less squared-off ends.