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lupine or lupin (lo͞oˈpĭn), any species of the genus Lupinus, annual or perennial herbs or shrubs of the family Leguminosae (pulse family). These leguminous plants have been cultivated in the Mediterranean region since ancient times for enriching the soil. The seeds of some species have been roasted or boiled and used as food to some extent in that locality and in the Andes, and the leafy parts are used as forage both there and in America. Some of the many species native to the American West are poisonous as forage, causing the disease lupinosis to which sheep are especially susceptible. Poisonous species and their effects have not been fully determined. As a garden flower the lupine is a favorite because of the various colors and the tall spikes of bonnet-shaped blossoms. The leaves are usually composed of leaflets radiating to form a rounded handlike leaf. Certain movements, as from the horizontal to a vertical position, are characteristic of the leaves of some of these plants, e.g., the common wild lupine (L. perennis), also called sundial and quaker bonnet. The bluebonnet, or buffalo clover (L. subcarnosus), is the state flower of Texas, where it carpets the plains in springtime with its blue blossoms. In Scotland the name bluebonnet is given to the cornflower. The false lupine belongs to the genus Thermopsis. Lupine is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Leguminosae.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



any one plant of the genus Lupinus of the family Leguminosae. Lupines are primarily annual and perennial herbs, native to the Mediterranean coast and North America. Of the more than 200 species of Lupinus growing in the western and eastern hemispheres, more than ten species are cultivated. In Europe the most widely distributed species are the annuals blue lupine (Lupinus angustifolius yellow lupine (L. luteus), and white lupine (L. albus) as well as the perennial Washington lupine (L. polyphyllus).

Annual lupines have erect, branching stems, which measure up to 1-1.5 m tall. They have taproots that extend deep into the soil. The leaves are usually alternate, petiolar, and digitate. The inflorescence is a vertical raceme. The flowers are brightly colored; the colors vary according to species. The fruits are leathery, pubescent or bare, polyspermous pods> which often crack open when ripe. The seeds vary in shape, color, and size. The weight of 1,000 seeds is 160-190 g for blue lupine, 130-150 g for yellow lupine, and 250-500 g for white lupine.

The vegetative period of annual lupines is 80-155 days. These species grow well in regions with sufficient moisture and soddy podzol, sandy, sandy loam, loamy, gray wood, and common chernozem soils. They yield good harvests of protein-rich green mass on soils with decreased fertility. In loose sandy soils it is best to plant yellow lupine, the most hardy species. All parts of the lupine plant contain bitter and toxic alkaloids (lupinine, lupanine, and lupinidine). Feeding animals such lupine in large quantities can cause the dangerous illness lupinosis. In the 1930’s new varieties of lupine with lower alkaloid content were introduced. These varieties became the principal fodder varieties, with the best fodder varieties having an alkaloid content of 0.025 percent (it had been 1.68 percent in the original bitter fodders).

Man has used lupine since ancient times. Grains from white lupine were found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs (2000 B.C.). Lupine initially was cultivated for its seeds, which were used as food and fodder after they were soaked in sea and fresh water. Later lupine was grown for green manure.

Lupine was first sown in Russia toward the beginning of the 20th century. Up until 1941 lupine was sown in the USSR primarily for green manure and seeds. After 1955 the bitter varieties with high alkaloid content were replaced by fodder varieties. A variety of yellow lupine with noncracking pods has been developed from the fodder varieties. The grain from yellow lupine contains 38-46 percent protein; from blue lupine, 29-33 percent protein; and from white lupine, 29-38 percent protein. The green mass of fodder varieties is readily eaten by animals and is easily digested. The average yield of green mass is 300-400 centners per hectare (ha); the harvest of grain is approximately 15 centners per ha.

To obtain fodder and green manure, lupine is usually sown in fields that have lain fallow; in addition sowing is done during and after the initial harvest period. Before plowing the soil, phosphorus-potassium fertilizers are applied. Approximately 1 million sprouting seeds are sown per ha in solid rows. When cultivating for seeds, wide rows are used and fewer seeds are planted. Before sowing, the seeds must be treated with lupine nitragin. The sowing depth must not exceed 3-4 cm for sandy soil and 2-3 cm for loamy soils. The best time for harvesting lupine for fodder is when the pods become shiny.

In the USSR, lupine is most widely cultivated in Byelorussia, Lithuania, the Ukrainian Poles’e, Briansk Oblast, and other oblasts. There are large plantings of lupine in Poland and Italy.

The perennial Washington lupine has several stems and measures up to 1.5 m tall. The inflorescence is an attractive raceme, with a height of up to 0.5 m. The flowers are most often blue-violet. The ripened pods burst open. The seeds are small; 1,000 seeds weight 25 g. Washington lupine is cultivated in fallow fields (for green manure) and undersown in spring fields. This process is followed by crop rotation. Additional plantings are useful as intermediary green manure crops among winter rye; sowing is done in the autumn before snowfall, in the winter while the snow is on the ground, or in early spring. The green mass is most often plowed under for potatoes (in the spring of the second year). To obtain seeds and green manure, nonrotated sections are also planted, and the crop is mown annually and taken away to fertilize other fields. Washington lupine is used in forestry to encourage the growth of fir and pine plantings.

Some perennial and annual species of Lupinus are used as ornamentals. The most common diseases infecting lupines are fusarium wilt, gray mold, powdery mildew, and brown patch. Countermeasures include treating the seeds with fungicide and using hardy varieties. Harmful pests include the aphid Aphis medicaginus, the weevil Sitona griseus, the seed-corn maggot, and wireworms. Control measures against these pests include spraying the crop with various chemicals.


Liupin. Edited by N. A. Maisurian. Moscow, 1962. (A collection of articles.)
Alekseev, E. K. Odnoletnie kormovye liupiny. Moscow, 1968.
Alekseev, E. K., V. S. Rubanov, and K. I. Dovban. Zelenoe udobrenie. Minsk, 1970.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A leguminous plant of the genus Lupinus with an upright stem, leaves divided into several digitate leaflets, and terminal racemes of pea-shaped blossoms.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


of, relating to, or resembling a wolf
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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Running buffalo clover at the cemetery is threatened by Japanese honeysuckle, wintercreeper, and periwinkle.
Rakes in tow, volunteers work to pull up the invasive ground cover around running buffalo clover sites.
Rediscovery of running buffalo clover excited botanists throughout its original range, and the search was on.
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Trifolium stoloniferum, running buffalo clover: Description, distribution, and current status eastern USA.