Also known as the dwarf lupine, the prairie lupine’s leaves are in the shape of the palm of a hand. Its seven to nine leaflets are green-grey in colour and covered with fine silky hairs. The flowers are in tall spikes, and coloured lavender to deep blue with white at the base of each flower.
RANGE & HABITAT
This lupine is found in dry grasslands, open ponderosa pine forests, arid basins and at low elevations in the Thompson and Okanagan valleys.
This lupine has heavy seeds that do not travel very far. They are in bloom from June until August, and the blooms ripen into seeds in the shape of a small pea pod that bursts open when dry.
Although other lupines have been known to kill animals that eat the plant, this lupine is considered a good food source for cattle. Chipmunks have been known to eat the seed, and squirrels will eat the leaves and flowers.
TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES
There are no recorded First Nations uses for lupine.
Some different types of lupine have been used on ulcers, to stimulate kidneys, and to destroy intestinal worms. Lupines are also useful to help sites with disturbed soil grow back.
Photo: Calypso Orchid