Lupinus (Lupine) loo-PIE-nus
Lupinus is an enormous genus of flowering plants, comprising hundreds of species. The colorful hybrid lupines most popular for gardens were primarily derived from Lupinus polyphyllus, a North American native, crossed with various other species, such as Lupinus arboreus. People once believed that lupine flowers soaked up all of the nutrients from the soil, leading to their common name being derived from the Latin word for wolf. However, Lupinus plants are members of the pea family, Fabaceae, and like peas, the plants actually are capable of fixing nitrogen in the soil.
There is nothing subtle about the shape and color of hybrid lupines. The tell-tale look is a tall, showy spire of flowers that can come in a multitude of colors. The foliage resembles palm leaves with seven to 10 leaflet segments each. This fast-growing flower is available as both an annual and a perennial, which is usually potted. They’re best planted in spring when starting with a new plant or cuttings and seeds can be planted in late spring or fall. Keep in mind that the plant is toxic to both humans and animals.