Thursday, June 18, 2020

In Lupin Heaven

June is Lupin season around many Lake Superior shores. They bloom in abundance along roadsides and are a sight to behold. The most common color is a deep blue, but white, pink, rose and lavender colors are mixed in as well. They are not native to the region, but probably were introduced in the 1960s as an ornamental plant originally from the Pacific Northwest.
I took a trip to the Bayfield, Washburn and Cornucopia area in northern Wisconsin and found myself in "Lupin Heaven"!! The flowers have a very pleasant fragrance. I stopped numerous times and clicked away with my macro lens. The conditions were challenging due to the wind and bright sunlight but I ended up with some keepers. 
I found these Fun Facts about Lupins online:
Lupin or Lupine is any species of the genus Lupinus, annual or perennial herbs or shrubs of the family Leguminosae.
There are about 200 different species of lupins in the world.
They are native to North and South America, North Africa and the Mediterranean.
Today, they are found all over the world exept in polar regions.
The term lupine, from the Latin for “wolf,” derives from the mistaken belief that these plants depleted, or “wolfed,” minerals from the soil. The contrary is true, however; lupines aid soil fertility by fixing nitrogen from the air in a soil form useful for other plants.
In New Zealand lupins have escaped into the wild and grow in large numbers along main roads and streams in South Island.
The species are mostly herbaceous perennial plants from 0.3 to 1.5 m (1 to 5 ft) tall, but some are annual plants and a few are shrubs up to 3 m (10 ft) tall.
Most species have compact, upright flower spikes, and through hybridization and selection some highly ornamental varieties have been developed.
They have a characteristic and easily recognized leaf shape, with soft green to grey-green or silvery leaves with the blades usually palmately divided into 5–17 leaflets or reduced to a single leaflet in a few species of the southeastern United States; in many species, the leaves are hairy with silvery hairs, often densely so.
The flowers are produced in dense or open whorls on an erect spike, each flower 1–2 cm (0.4 to 0.8 in) long. The pea-like flowers have an upper standard, or banner, two lateral wings, and two lower petals fused into a keel. The flower shape has inspired common names such as bluebonnets and quaker bonnets.
The fruit is a pod containing several seeds.
They are widely cultivated, both as a food source and as ornamental plants.
As a garden flower the lupine is a favorite because of the various colors and the tall spikes of bonnet-shaped blossoms. Purple color is most common, but there are also blue, yellow, pink and white varieties.
Many annual species of lupins are used in agriculture and most of them have Mediterranean origin.
Lupin flower symbolizes happiness and imagination.
Lupin or lupini beans are the yellow legume seeds of lupins. They are traditionally eaten as a pickled snack food, primarily in the Mediterranean basin and Latin America. The bitter variety of the beans are high in alkaloids and are extremely bitter unless rinsed methodically.
Like other legumes, they can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into ammonia via a rhizobium–root nodule symbiosis, fertilizing the soil for other plants. This adaption allows lupins to be tolerant of infertile soils and capable of pioneering change in barren and poor-quality soils.
Bluebonnets, including the Texas bluebonnet (L. texensis), are the state flowers of Texas.
Enjoy! Susanne

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