Lupine is a versatile plant. It is a wildflower, a garden perennial and a legume. The plant reseeds itself readily, although some varieties are slow-growing. Lupine plants are native to the United States and are beneficial to the soil, as they transform atmospheric nitrogen to a more readily usable form, according to the University of Texas native plant database. Most varieties of lupine have tall, showy spikes of flowers in shades of purple or blue, making them a highly desirable addition to any home garden.
Sundial Lupine, Wild Lupine (Lupinus Perennis)
This lupine features tall flower stalks that can reach up to 2 feet in height. Each stalk is lined with bright blue flowers. Rarely, the flowers will be pink or white. The leaves are attached in a pinwheel shape, each containing between seven and 11 "leaflets." Like all lupines, this variety grows best in acidic, somewhat sandy and dry soil and in full sun or partial shade.
Lady Lupine, Hairy Lupine (Lupinus Villosus)
Hairy lupine has long and slender light-green leaves that are covered with tiny hairs, giving them a silvery, fuzzy appearance. The flowers are usually light lavender (sometimes so light that they appear white) and bloom from April all the way through July. This smaller variety has spikes that average around a foot and a half in height. Like L. perennis, this variety is seen frequently growing in the wild, especially in rocky or sandy open spaces with lots of sunlight, such as prairies or fields.
Dune Bluebonnet, Nebraska Lupine (Lupinus Plattensis)
Lupinus plattensis is found primarily in the midwestern part of the United States, west from Colorado, east to Texas and north to Montana. The flowers of this lupine variety are a very attractive baby- or sky-blue color, with spikes reaching a maximum height of 3 feet. Lupinus plattensis blooms from April to June. It does not last into summer like some other varieties of lupine.
Bigleaf lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus)
Also called "meadow" or "bog" lupine, this variety is the largest and hardiest, reaching maximum heights of 5 feet. The leaves are a rich, dark green and the flower colors are deep blue, reddish-purple or a true purple. This lupine is described as "somewhat succulent" by the University of Texas native plant database and thrives in cool, moist soils. Lupinus polyphyllus only blooms in May and is found growing wild in states across the western half of the country.