Elegant Lupine (Elegans)

The Elegant Lupine (Elegans) has green foliage and inconspicuous blue flowers, with a smattering of conspicuous white fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late summer, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Elegant Lupine (Elegans) has a short life span relative to most other plant species and a rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical Elegant Lupine (Elegans) will reach up to 3 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Elegant Lupine (Elegans) is not commonly available from nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed. It has a moderate ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have medium vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below 47°F. has low tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

This legume has shown considerable promise as a winter cover crop. It produces good to excellent ground cover in young irrigated citrus groves, and is an excellent producer of honey nectar.

General Characteristics

Lupinus elegans Kunth, elegant lupine, grows to a height of 4 feet and is 3 feet wide. Growth is from a central stem which branches frequently. The blooming period lasts for several weeks, commencing about mid-January and continuing to late March. Overall seed production is good, but the amount available for harvest at any one time is rather limited as the seed pods shatter readily upon reaching maturity. The seed produced is small, hard, persists in the soil, and volunteers readily in the autumn months.

Required Growing Conditions

Elegant lupine is adapted to fine and medium textured soils with moderate fertility and a pH of 6 to 7. The species has some drought tolerance, but prefers a minimum of 35 inches of annual precipitation to grow.

Cultivation and Care

Plow and/or disk the soil thoroughly and follow by firmly packing the soil while it is still moist. Fertilize at the recommended rate at or prior to seeding. Twenty-five pounds of seed per acre are required for broadcast seedings, while 12 to 15 pounds per acre should be used for row planting. Row planting results in more satisfactory inoculation and more rapid early growth. Inoculation is required regardless of planting method. Pack the soil firmly over either broadcast or row planted seed.

General Upkeep and Control

This lupine can withstand moderate drought, but will grow considerably better if supplemental irrigation can be provided during drought periods. Seed harvesting occurs from mid-March to mid-April depending upon location, soil, weather and plant conditions. The seed is harvested while much of the plant is still green. The crop is mowed when the optimum amount of nearly mature seed is present and is allowed to dry on the ground. When the leaves, pods and stalks are nearly dry, the material is run through a conventional seed harvesting combine.

Pests and Potential Problems There are no known serious insect pests of the plant; however, several insects will attack the seed both on the plant and in storage.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) Armex (Mexico) is an informal release. Seed is available at most commercial seed sources.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Rapid
Growth Period Fall, Winter, Spring
Lifespan Short
Plant Nativity Cultivated, or not in the U.S.
Commercial Availability No Known Source
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Late Summer
Displays Fall Colors Yes
Shape/Growth Form Single Crown
Drought Tolerance Low
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 3
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Blue
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance Low
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Moderate
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature 47
Soil Depth for Roots 10
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Slow
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 6–7 pH
Precipitation Range 35–35 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 10
Minimum Frost-Free Days 180 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance None
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating Low

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database, plants.usda.gov.
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA