Plant of the Week
Sabin's Lupine (Lupinus sabinianus Dougl. ex Lindl.)
By Jean Wood
Sabin's lupine is a species known only from a small area on the west slopes of the central Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon. It is an unusually large and showy lupine with bright yellow flowers and handsome dark green foliage.
Sabin's lupine is a perennial species that can grow to more than 3 feet tall in bloom, with clumps that are 2 to 3 feet across. Flowering stems carry a tall spike of yellow flowers that stand well above the dark leaves. Because it is in the pea family, each blossom that gets fertilized produces a small, fuzzy pod with several pinkish-brown bean-like seeds inside. The leaves are "palmate", with an uneven number of narrow leaflets radiating from a central "palm" to form a shape like a flattened umbrella.
Sabin's lupine grows in forest openings that show evidence of past soil disturbance, and in areas such as road cuts. Because it is well adapted to take advantage of man-made disturbance, it appears to be thriving as a species and is not considered at risk in spite of its narrow range of occurrence. In fact, because of its ability to grow on disturbed sites, it is being experimentally cultivated for use as a restoration species along a highway reconstruction project near its native habitat.