Friday, June 27, 2014

Lupine Season

With summer come the Lupine--one of the most celebrated flowers across the country.  In California they're known as Bluebells or Bluebonnets, and in Texas they're the state flower, known as Texas Bluebonnets.  Because they add a bright blue to the scenery as it starts to dry up, they keep Springtime with us for a few weeks longer.

Lupines are members of the  Fabaceae (pea) family.  I've talked about some other members of that family--Vetches, Milkvetches and Locoweed.  Peas are great for the soil since they take nitrogen from the air and 'fix' it in the soil, giving nutrients for other plants.  

Lupines are pretty plants even before they bloom.  The leaves are digitate or palmate, so they come out from one central point like the fingers of a hand.  Early in the season that's all you can see, but they're distinctive, and are a sign that summer will come.
Lupine (Lupinus argentum)
The flowers on peas are pretty cool, too.  They have distinctive names, but mostly it's the over all shape that's important in identifying them.  There are five petals, but the two lower petals are fused into one and form a round, pointed shape which is named a keel.  The two petals on the sideAbove the keel, are two petals that flare out to the side, called wings.  The last petal sits on top and is called the banner.  All peas have a similar arrangement, from the wildflowers to the peas in your garden.  Likewise, after the blooms, the seeds of the Lupine looks like little fuzzy pea pods.  Check them out!

Closeup of Lupine flowers

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