Lupinus latifolius


  USDA Forest Service; Kurt Parker
Reeves, Sonja L. 2006. Lupinus latifolius. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].


Lupinus latifolius spp. dudleyi (Rydb.) Kenney & D. Dunn
Lupinus latifolius spp. latifolius
Lupinus latifolius spp. leucanthus (Rydb.) Kenney & D. Dunn [49]
Lupinus latifolius spp. longipes (Greene) Kenney & D. Dunn [49,50]
Lupinus latifolius spp. parishii (C.P. Sm.) Kenney & D. Dunn
Lupinus latifolius spp. viridifolius (Heller) Kenney & D. Dunn [49]


broadleaf lupine
broad-leaved lupine

The scientific name of broadleaf lupine is Lupinus latifolius Agardh (Fabaceae) [11,45,46,47,50,80]. Accepted varieties are:

Lupinus latifolius var. latifolius Agardh [45,47,60]
Lupinus latifolius var. barbatus (L. Henderson) Munz [45]
Lupinus latifolius var. columbianus (Heller) C.P. Smith [11,45,80]
Lupinus latifolius var. dudleyi C.P. Smith
Lupinus latifolius var. parishii C.P. Smith
Lupinus latifolius var. viridifolius (Heller) C.P. Smith [45]


No special status



SPECIES: Lupinus latifolius
In the United States, broadleaf lupine distribution extends from Washington south to California and east to Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico. In Canada, it is only found in British Columbia. Plants Database provides a distributional map of broadleaf lupine.

Varieties: Lupinus latifolius var. latifolius occurs from British Columbia south to California [45,47,60]. Lupinus latifolius var. barbatus, L. l. var. dudleyi, L. l. var. parishii, and L. l. var. viridifolius occur in California [45]. Lupinus latifolius var. columbianus is found throughout the Intermountain West [11,45,80].

FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES22 Western white pine
FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES24 Hemlock-Sitka spruce
FRES25 Larch
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES44 Alpine

STATES/PROVINCES: (key to state/province abbreviations)



1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau

K001 Spruce-cedar-hemlock forest
K002 Cedar-hemlock-Douglas-fir forest
K003 Silver fir-Douglas-fir forest
K004 Fir-hemlock forest
K005 Mixed conifer forest
K007 Red fir forest
K008 Lodgepole pine-subalpine forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K013 Cedar-hemlock-pine forest
K014 Grand fir-Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce-fir forest
K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest
K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest
K025 Alder-ash forest
K026 Oregon oakwoods
K028 Mosaic of K002 and K026
K029 California mixed evergreen forest
K047 Fescue-oatgrass
K052 Alpine meadows and barren

205 Mountain hemlock
206 Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir
207 Red fir
208 Whitebark pine
210 Interior Douglas-fir
211 White fir
212 Western larch
213 Grand fir
215 Western white pine
217 Aspen
218 Lodgepole pine
224 Western hemlock
226 Coastal true fir-hemlock
229 Pacific Douglas-fir
230 Douglas-fir-western hemlock
233 Oregon white oak
243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
246 California black oak
256 California mixed subalpine

103 Green fescue
108 Alpine Idaho fescue
203 Riparian woodland
216 Montane meadows
410 Alpine rangeland
411 Aspen woodland
413 Gambel oak
418 Bigtooth maple
422 Riparian

In addition to the plant communities listed above, broadleaf lupine is known to occur in a variety of other communities. Communities where broadleaf lupine is dominant include:

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
broadleaf lupine/American bistort (Polygonum bistortoides)
Sitka valerian (Valeriana sitchensis)/broadleaf lupine
greenleaf fescue (Festuca viridula)/broadleaf lupine
pink mountainheath (Phyllodoce empetriformis)/broadleaf lupine [32,44]

Eastern Washington national forests
broadleaf lupine [51]

Olympic National Forest, Washington
subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa)/broadleaf lupine [43].

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington
coast Douglas-fir/vine maple/western fescue (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii/Acer circinatum/Festuca occidentalis) [78].

Blue Mountains, eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington
poke knotweed (Polygonum phytolaccifolium) [35]

Broadleaf lupine is a component of the vegetation in the following communities:

quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) riparian forest [48]
giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) [42,71]

Eastern Washington national forests
timber oatgrass (Danthonia intermedia)
black alpine sedge (Carex nigrans)
saw-leaved sedge (Carex scopulorum var. prionophylla)
subalpine fir/cascade azalea (Rhododendron albiflorum)/arrowleaf ragwort (Senecio triangularis)
subalpine fir/false bugbane (Trautvettaria caroliniensis)
subalpine fir/globeflower (Trollius laxus)
subalpine fir/mountain arnica (Arnica latifolia)-skunkleaf polemonium (Polemonium pulcherrimum)
subalpine fir/Labrador tea (Ledum glandulosum)-grouse huckleberry (Vaccinium scoparium)
subalpine fir/twinflower (Linnaea borealis var. longiflora) [51]

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
gray alder/blue wildrye (Alnus incana/Elymus glaucus) [54]

Pacific Northwest
western moss heather (Cassiope mertensiana)-pink mountainheath
Sitka valerian-green false hellebore (Veratrum viride)
showy sedge (Carex spectabilis)
American saw-wort (Saussurea americana)
purple monkeyflower (Mimulus lewisii) [31,32]

Broadleaf lupine is rare along riparian areas of Zion National Park, Utah [41].


SPECIES: Lupinus latifolius


  2001 Steven Thorsted

This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available [11,38,46,47,50,59,60,80].

Broadleaf lupine is a native perennial forb. It has a bushy, densely branched growth habit originating from a woody caudex and an extensive root system [39]. Plant heights range from 1 to 4 feet (0.3-1.2 m) on erect stems that are subglabrous to minutely strigose [59,60,80]. The leaves are palmately compound with 5 to 10 leaflets. The leaflets are elliptic to lance-shaped, 1 to 3 inches (2.5-7.6 cm) long, glabrous above, and minutely strigose beneath. The inflorescence is a showy raceme from 4 to12 inches (10-30 cm) long with numerous whorled or scattered pea-like flowers. The fruit is a legume that is 0.8 to 1.8 inches (2-4.5 cm) long and densely hairy. The legume pod contains 6 to 10 dark brown seeds [11,38,45,53,59,80].

Physiology: Broadleaf lupine is a nitrogen-fixing legume [17,61]. Seventeen years after thinning on a coast Douglas-fir site, broadleaf lupine was 1 of 2 species that accounted for only 1% of understory biomass, yet contributed 1/3rd of the nitrogen annually cycled [57].


Broadleaf lupine regenerates by seed and vegetative means. The deep, lateral root system can spread vegetatively from root sprouts [3]. Broadleaf lupine regenerated from root fragments that had been transported by the debris avalanche during the eruption of Mount St. Helens [24,25,77]. Vegetative growth also emanates from the perennating buds on the woody caudex [4].

Pollination: Broadleaf lupine is insect pollinated [29]. Bees pollinate broadleaf lupine on the Olympic National Forest, Washington [53].

Breeding system: There is considerable genetic variation within local populations of broadleaf lupine. Both diploid and tetraploid forms occur in some populations [29].

Seed production: Six to ten large seeds are produced per seed pod [39,45]. One terminal cluster can produce as many as 35 pods [80].

Seed dispersal: The pod splits at maturity, releasing several seeds [53]. The seeds are large and are not dispersed widely [81]. Dispersal is mainly by gravity and water. Seedlings generally establish within a few meters of the parent plant [24].

Seed banking: Some Lupinus species form a seed bank [37], but information is lacking for broadleaf lupine. Further research is needed in this area.

Germination: The optimal temperature for the germination of broadleaf lupine seeds in alpine tundra is 68 F (20 C) [14]. The greatest percentage (~40%) of germination of broadleaf lupine seeds in a greenhouse environment occurred about 168 hours after imbibition [39].

Seedling establishment/growth: Seedlings have pronounced taproots, but lateral root development is limited, and only small rosettes of leaves are initially formed [3].

Asexual regeneration: Broadleaf lupine reproduces from root sprouts, root fragments, and from the caudex [3,4,24,25,77].

After the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, studies were done on the plants that had tephra (coarse, airborne material) deposited on top of them. Broadleaf lupine's perennating buds remained on the woody caudex at the soil surface, but the stems easily penetrated up through the deposit. Subsequent seed production was substantial, and broadleaf lupine seedlings established in the tephra [4].

The following table describes site characteristics for broadleaf lupine throughout its distribution.

State/Region Site Characteristics
California Moist areas in shady to open woods below 11,000 feet (3,500 m) [45,59,60]
Nevada Moist soils on streambanks, mountain ridges, and meadows, 5,000 to 9,000 feet (1,500-2,700 m) [50]
Utah, Zion National Park Oakbrush (Quercus spp.) and streamside communities at 4,000 feet (1,200 m) [80]
Washington (eastern) Lowland prairies to alpine ridges, also found in moist, well-drained riparian and wetland zones [51]
Washington (northwest) Open, subalpine ridges to wooded slopes and natural openings [36]
Olympic National Forest, Washington High elevation, drier environmental zones and moist subalpine meadows [53]
Olympic National Park, Washington Subalpine meadow and mesic grass communities with late snowmelt [20,64]
Oregon (western) and southwestern Washington Open sites, dry to moist, lowlands to upper elevations [38]
Pacific Northwest Open, subalpine ridges to wooded slopes, occasionally on low-elevation grasslands [46]

Soils: Broadleaf lupine can persist in low-fertility soils because of its ability to fix nitrogen [40]. It may increase soil fertility. On sites in the Olympic Mountains, the soils directly surrounding the nitrogen-fixing broadleaf lupine plants had twice the nitrogen, more organic matter, and more phosphorus than adjacent soils [15].

The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens provided a unique opportunity to study the growth response of broadleaf lupine on the newly deposited volcanic substrates. A greenhouse study on 4 soil samples taken from the site during the summers of 1980 and 1981 revealed that broadleaf lupine exhibited the greatest growth response on tephra and the least growth on the pyroclastics (volcanic rock fragments). Subsequent soil samples collected from 1982 and 1983 revealed a large growth response on 3 substrates (pyroclastics, mud, and tephra) [27].

The soil descriptions for 2 plant communities where broadleaf lupine is dominant follow.

Olympic National Forest, subalpine fir/broadleaf lupine association: Soils are shallow, coarse-textured, and very rocky. They have high permeability and low water holding capacity. Soils are cold in winter and warm in summer; the mean soil temperature for August is 54 F (12 C). The soil temperature regime is frigid, and the soil moisture regime is xeric. Stands in this type have burned frequently in the past, which may have contributed to the apparently low fertility of these sites. Other associations in which broadleaf lupine was a minor component have shallow, rocky soils [43].

Mount Rainier National Park, green fescue meadows: Soils are relatively dry, well-drained loams that are primarily derived from geologically young deposits of glacial till and volcanic ash [73].

Broadleaf lupine was a common colonizing species on many of the primary successional habitats after the eruption of Mount St. Helens [18,21,28,40,77]. On debris avalanche sites at Mount St. Helens, broadleaf lupine altered local soil moisture conditions by shading, and altered soil nutrient status by nitrogen fixation [24].

There was an abundance of broadleaf lupine on a pioneer community dominated by red alder (Alnus rubra) and Sitka willow (Salix sitchensis) on Bald Mountain, Vancouver Island, British Columbia [23]. In Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, broadleaf lupine is associated with young and developing communities but is most characteristic of the "best developed" and "most mature" meadow communities [44]. Broadleaf lupine is a dominant species in both early seral and old-growth stands of Olympic National Forest [43].

The rapid development of an extensive lateral root system should allow broadleaf lupine to exploit resources effectively and thus succeed in competing for water, light, and space later in succession. The presence of broadleaf lupine plants in canopy gaps of old-growth forests of coast Douglas-fir, mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana), and western redcedar (Thuja plicata) confirms its ability to succeed in a strongly competitive environment [3].

The following table provides flowering dates for broadleaf lupine throughout its distribution.

State/Region Anthesis Period
California April to July [59,60]
Nevada June to August [50]
Olympic National Forest June to August [53]
Pacific Northwest June to August [46]

In some years, broadleaf lupine on high-elevation sites may not set seed. In subalpine meadows of Olympic National Park broadleaf lupine requires 27 to 33 days to reach full bloom, which it cannot always do. The onset of broadleaf lupine seed dispersal in subalpine meadows is influenced by the date of snow release. Plants that are not released until mid-summer often do not reach the stage of seed dispersal. Completion of phenology depends on the onset of the following winter [20].


SPECIES: Lupinus latifolius
Fire adaptations: Broadleaf lupine has a deep, lateral root system and is capable of spreading vegetatively from root sprouts [3]. It is likely that these characteristics provide for regeneration following fire. Depending on the severity of top-kill by fire, sprouting from the caudex would also be a possibility. Information is lacking on the regeneration of broadleaf lupine seed after fire. Further research is needed in this area.

Fire regimes for the mesic communities where broadleaf lupine occurs most often are mostly mixed- to high-severity with fire return intervals ranging from 35 to 200 years. In some cases, fire return intervals may be >200 years [19].

The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where broadleaf lupine is important. For further information, see the FEIS review of the dominant species listed below.

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years)
silver fir-Douglas-fir Abies amabilis-Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii >200
grand fir Abies grandis 35-200 [7]
tamarack Larix laricina 35-200 [63]
western larch Larix occidentalis 25-350 [8,13,26]
Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir Picea engelmannii-Abies lasiocarpa 35 to >200 [7]
whitebark pine* Pinus albicaulis 50-200 [1,5]
Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine* Pinus contorta var. latifolia 25-340 [12,13,76]
Sierra lodgepole pine* Pinus contorta var. murrayana 35-200
western white pine* Pinus monticola 50-200 [7]
quaking aspen (west of the Great Plains) Populus tremuloides 7-120 [7,34,56]
mountain grasslands Pseudoroegneria spicata 3-40 (x=10) [6,7]
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca 25-100 [7,9,10]
coastal Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii 40-240 [7,58,67]
California mixed evergreen Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii-Lithocarpus densiflorus-Arbutus menziesii <35 [7]
California oakwoods Quercus spp. <35
Oregon white oak Quercus garryana <35
western redcedar-western hemlock Thuja plicata-Tsuga heterophylla >200
western hemlock-Sitka spruce Tsuga heterophylla-Picea sitchensis >200
mountain hemlock* Tsuga mertensiana 35 to >200 [7]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species review

Caudex/herbaceous root crown, growing points in soil
Geophyte, growing points deep in soil


SPECIES: Lupinus latifolius
Broadleaf lupine is likely top-killed by fire. Established plants are probably resistant to fire-induced mortality because of perennating buds on the deep, lateral root system.

No additional information is available on this topic.

Research to date (2006) suggests that broadleaf lupine responds favorably to fire. It was reportedly common or abundant after fire in many locations.

The presence of broadleaf lupine was recorded on 3-, 55-, and 81-year old burns on a mountain hemlock-subalpine fir forest of the Olympic Mountains in Washington [2]. The percent cover of broadleaf lupine in mature coast Douglas-fir/Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) stands (230 to 320 years old) of the eastern Cascade Range in Washington was <1%, while the percent cover increased to 10% with a 60% frequency in the same plant community type 4 years following a slash burn that escaped into the adjacent mature forest [62]. In the Sierra Nevada, Lupinus latifolius spp. latifolius commonly appears in great numbers following fires, particularly on mesic sites including giant sequoia groves and mixed-conifer stands dominated by white fir [69,70]. Broadleaf lupine was dominant after a controlled burn on a dwarf fireweed-woodland ragwort (Epilobium minutum-Senecio sylvaticus) community on Goldstream Summit, Vancouver Island, British Columbia [23]. For further information on that study, see Other Management Considerations.

The current body of research provides no clear direction for using fire as a management tool for broadleaf lupine populations. The research discussed above does, however, indicate that fire has a positive influence on broadleaf lupine. Further research is need on the fire ecology of broadleaf lupine.


SPECIES: Lupinus latifolius
Hall [36] states that broadleaf lupine seeds are poisonous to animals because of the alkaloids they contain. Further research is needed on this topic [55]. The teratogenic alkaloid anagyrine has been found in broadleaf lupine and can cause "crooked calf disease" if a pregnant cow consumes the flowers or seed pods between the 40th and 70th days of gestation [65].

The importance of broadleaf lupine to Columbian black-tailed deer is relatively low [23].

Palatability/nutritional value: Columbian black-tailed deer on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, eat broadleaf lupine leaves casually or when under stress [23]. Birds eat the seeds [51].

Cover value: No information is available on this topic.

Broadleaf lupine is a valuable tool for rehabilitation of disturbed sites because it grows well on droughty and low-fertility sites, colonizes disturbed areas, has a deep root system for stabilizing soil, and forms associations with nitrogen-fixing bacteria [29]. It is commonly used for erosion control [29,38].

Broadleaf lupine seedlings grown in a greenhouse were used for rehabilitation of Paradise Meadow in Mount Rainier National Park. The survival rate for all forbs planted in the revegetation plots averaged 94%. Broadleaf lupine and other forb species spread faster than sedges (Carex spp.). Seeding with broadleaf lupine seeds was successful on these plots [68]. Survival of outplanted broadleaf lupine seedlings, also grown in the greenhouse, was successful after 2 years on a native plant garden (Biscuit scabland restoration) in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon [82,83].

Native Americans used to make tea from broadleaf lupine seeds to aid urination [35].

The number of flowering stems can be severely diminished with intensive grazing by wild herbivores (76, 62, 36, and 74 were the number of flowering stems for 25%, 50%, 75% defoliation, and control, respectively) [73]. Where broadleaf lupine is not selected for grazing, it is considered an increaser [64]. It is an important increaser on disturbed sites at higher elevations in western Oregon and southwestern Washington [38].

Broadleaf lupine is not resistant to trampling, but it tolerates some trampling because of its upright growth habit and because plants regenerate rapidly from subsurface adventitious buds [22].

Disturbance from postharvest slash treatments had little effect on broadleaf lupine cover. Six different slash treatments were done after clearcutting on a high-elevation lodgepole pine/subalpine fir forest of the Cascade Range in Washington. Treatments included a spring broadcast burn, a fall broadcast burn, piled slash burned with clear areas (high-severity burn), piled unmerchantable material, chipped slash, and no treatment. With the exception of the piled unmerchantable material, from which broadleaf lupine was absent, broadleaf lupine cover was around 4 dm/15 m on all treatment plots and the adjacent forest that was not harvested [72,84].

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