Wild Lupines

Wild Lupines in Nova ScotiaThis time of year you can find lupines in many places across Canada. They are sometimes considered an invasive weed, but they do have some redeeming qualities. First of all they are gorgeous when all out in bloom. Secondly, they fix nitrogen in the soil which means they are tolerant of infertile soil, and gradually improve it. They make good companion plants for those that need nitrogen and are often used in reforestation projects.

Although the foliage is not poisonous and is good forage food for livestock, the seeds can cause poisoning, depressing the heart and nervous system. However, in  other areas of the world, species of lupine seeds such as Lupinus albus, are eaten once the alkyloids are soaked out of them in salt water as they contain the full range of essential amino acids.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, there are about 28 species of Lupine growing across Canada. Most grow in Western Canada right up to the Arctic such as Lupinus arcticus, Lupinus nootkatensis, and Lupinus polyphyllus. Lupinus perennis grows in southern Ontario, and Lupinus polyphyllus has also naturalized in Eastern Canada.

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