Lupinus albicaulis

From Puget Prairie Plants
  • Scientific Name: Lupinus albicaulis
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • Common Names: sicklekeel lupine
  • Synonyms/Misapplications: L. albicaulis var. albicaulis, L. falcifer, L. quercetorum, L. wolfianus
  • Codon: LUPALB

Photo by Rod Gilbert, 2006, also featured on Main Page


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Viridiplantae
Phylum: Tracheophyta
Subphylum: Spermatophytina
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosanae
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Lupinus L.
Species: Lupinus albicaulis Douglas


Plant Description

Native perennial herb.

Leaves are palmately compound and composed of 5 to 10 narrowly oblong leaflets, each leaflet up to 7 cm. in size. Stems and both surfaces of leaves are covered in fine, whitish hairs.[2]

Pappilonaceous flowers vary in color and may be white, yellow, purple, or blue and white. Flowered are whorled in racemes up to 4.5 dm long.[2] Flowers have an upcurved glabrous keel, with slender wings which expose lower half of keel.[3]

Pods are 2-5 cm, silky.[4]

According to Flora of the Pacific Northwest, "Perennial lupines in North America form a taxonomically difficult group in which some species boundaries are blurred by wide-spread interbreeding; not all plants will readily key."[3]

Bloom Period

May to July [5]


Puget Trough southwards, along West Cascades in Washington and Oregon, to California and western Nevada.[3]


Grasslands and prairies from the lowlands to moderate elevations.[5]


Important larval host for several blue butterflies, including Puget Blue.

Because of the capacity to fix nitrogen and grow quickly, Lupinus albicaulis is useful for soil stabilization and improving soil fertility.[6]

Benefits hummingbirds and butterflies (larval host). Low palatability for browsing and grazing animals although small animals use it for cover. Birds eat seeds. Seeds toxic if eaten in large quantities. [7]


Lupinus albicaulis, photo by Lisa Hintz

Seed sample from: 2011

Average Measurement: 5.7 x 4.4 x 2.1

Measurement Range: L: 5 - 6.5, W: 4 - 5, D: 1.5 - 2.5


Color: Seeds are mostly off-white, tan, or gray with darker brown or tan mottling. Speckles tend to be heavier at seed edges leading to a darkened appearance.

Surface: Seeds smooth and glossy with some concave pitting.

Latitudinal Cross Section: elliptical LUAL-lat.png

Longitudinal Cross Section: elliptical LUAL-long.png

Basic Explanations and Assumptions:

The dimensions for the seeds are length x width x depth. The location of the hilum is used as the base of the seed, and the length is measured from hilum to the opposite apex. Where a style is present, the length is measured from the hilum to the bottom of the style. Width is measured at a right angle to the length at the widest part. Depth is measured at a right angle to the intersection of height and width lines.

Measurements included are the mean average for each measurement of ten separate seeds.

All measurements in millimeters unless otherwise noted.

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  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved from
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bowcutt, F., & Hamman, Sarah. (2016). Vascular plants of the South Sound prairies (First ed.). Olympia, Washington: The Evergreen State College Press.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Hitchcock, C. L., Cronquist, A., Giblin, D., & Legler, B. et al. (2018). Flora of the Pacific Northwest: an illustrated manual. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  4. Teresa Sholars & Rhonda Riggins 2012, Lupinus albicaulis, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=76657, accessed on June 08, 2020
  5. 5.0 5.1 WTU Herbarium, Burke Museum, & University of Washington. Retrieved from
  6. Lupinus albicaulis. Sevenoaks Native Nursery.
  7. Plant Database. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin. (2007).