Sky Lupine is found in many grassy areas in coastal and inland California at an altitude of less than 3500 feet. It grows in a variety of soils from sand to clay, and is often found in disturbed areas. As a member of the pea family, it is a nitrogen fixer enriching the soil. This plant can take full sun with adequate water during the growing season. Sky Lupine is an annual, growing as a fire-retardant ground cover in grasslands, from about January to June. The plant dies after seeding. Seeds germinate the following spring to once again cover the area in flowering plants.
Sky Lupine grows to a height of about two feet, with many green, palmate leaves and blue pea-like flowers, that turn pink after pollination. The flowers are visited by bees, in particular native bumble bees.
The scientifc name, is Lupinus nanus. The name for this very large family, Lupinus, is derived from from the Latin lupus for “wolf”. Because Lupine plants grow in disturbed areas, it was once thought that they denuded the soil, hence the name “wolf”. In actuality, they have the opposite affect because of the capbility to fix nitrogen, which means they can grow in areas where other plants would generally fail. The Greek word nannos means dwarf.
The photo at the top was taken on Figueroa mountain, and the one on the left on More Mesa on March 2, 2003. The lower right picture was taken on Sedgwick Reserve, March 22, 2003.