|Monday Melange: Texas Bluebonnet|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Monday, 16 April 2012|
When I think of lupines I think of English cottage gardens, which made me wonder if there were any lupines (Lupinus spp.) native to the US. There sure are! No less than 54 species in various shades of purple and pink, as well as yellow and white, and with habitats ranging from desert to mountain to bogs and swampy areas. Since I rarely focus on this part of the country, I picked the Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis ), native to Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Florida to profile today.
Texas Bluebonnet is also known as Texas lupine, Buffalo clover, and Wolf-flower, and is the state flower of Texas. It is a member of the Legume plant family (Fabaceae) and hardy between USDA plant zones 4 and 10. The fragrant, showy purple-blue flower spikes are easily recognizable and bloom between March and May, attracting bees and butterflies. Preferring full sun, they are commonly found in prairies, open fields, and along roadsides.
Growing to a height of 12 to 24 inches, Texas Bluebonnets thrive in calcareous soils, that is, soils derived from limestone, as well as poor sandy soils (legumes are nitrogen fixers). They are drought tolerant; however, when growing them from seed they do need abundant moisture to germinate. The seeds of lupines, which are found in pods, as well as other parts of the plant including the flowers, can be toxic to humans and should not be ingested.
For a complete list of native lupines visit the Native Plant Database at The Lady bird Johnson Wildflower Center.