June 28, 2014

Dunes in Bloom: Silver Dune Lupine

sliver dune lupine 700x300This month we will be highlighting the Sliver Dune Lupine, Lupinus chamissonis, a beautiful flower that blooms through out the coastal regions.

The lupine is a familiar flower seen throughout California.  It is a part of the pea family and is a nitrogen-fixing legume. Bacteria in nodules on the roots fix the nitrogen allowing it to act as a natural fertilizer.  This helps perpetuate other plants in the nutrient deficient dunes soil. The silver dune lupine grows from 4-6 feet.  The plant has silver gray stems and foliage year-round. It grows along the coast, especially along the dune areas, from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It needs perfect drainage, but tolerates nutrient poor soil, sea spray and is drought tolerant. In the spring the plant erupts with 5 inch spikes of blue to violet colored flowers producing the beautiful lupine like plant we all recognize.  

The silver bush lupine attracts birds and beneficial insects to its pea shaped blossoms. During the spring caterpillars are likely found hiding in the foliage. This in addition to its ability to thrive in nutrient poor soil make is an important part of the dunes flora.  In a garden environment it tends to do poorly most often due to overwatering and too rich soil.  The plants can also be very susceptible to slug and snail damage when young. The Silver Dune lupine in our native garden had its first significant bloom this year. Just another sign of our growing garden!



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