Lupinus diffuses Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
The sky-blue lupine is a native of the dry, sandy habitats of Florida and the southeastern US. These lupines grow in sandhills, scrub and flatwoods, and thrive in nutrient poor soils. Like other legumes, lupines have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing-bacteria – the bacteria absorb atmospheric nitrogen and allow the plant to thrive in nitrogen poor soils.
Though lupines are now known to benefit the soil they grow on by hosting the nitrogen-fixing bacteria, they were once thought to do the opposite. The lupines latin name, lupinus comes from the latin lupus or wolf. Lupins were originally named because they were believed to kill other plants by creating the impoverished soil they frequently grow on.
In Florida, the sky-blue lupine blooms from midwinter to early spring, and they are easy to see because the showy blooms stand out against drab gray-brown winter pastures.
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