Lupinus excubitus M.E. Jones var. austromontanus
(A.A. Heller) C.P. Smith

Southern Mountain Lupine
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

 

Southern mountain lupine is a prostrate to erect, much-branched, greenish to silvery-hairy perennial shrub reaching some 60" in height.  The leaves are palmately-compound with 7-9 leaflets on petioles up to 4" long, densely silvery-silky on both surfaces.  The papilionaceous flowers are in a raceme to 10" long and are arranged in separate whorls from 3/4" to 2" apart.  The upper calyx lip is deeply notched and the lower is entire to 3-toothed.  The corolla is composed of sweet-smelling blue to violet petals. The banner petal is ± roundish, and glabrous to slightly pubescent on the back with a large yellow blotch in the center that ages to purple.  The wing petals are broad, and the fused keel petals are curved, ciliate on the upper margin from middle to tip, and glabrous on the lower margin.  The fruit is a silky pod up to two inches long that contains 5-8 mottled yellow-brown seeds.  There are several named variants of Lupinus excubitus, but I believe that the species represented here is L. excubitus var austromontanus, which typically grows from 4000' to 8500' at the upper edges of chaparral and in yellow pine forest, and blooms from May to July.  It is a fairly common species in the Tehachapis, San Gabriels and San Bernardino Mts.  One of its common names is grape soda lupine, and indeed it does smell a lot like that. I am highly skeptical of the validity of the distinction between var. austromontanus and var. johnstonii, because I have often seen what appear to be the two varities growing together, and the only thing that separates them is height.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Lupinus 2) excubitus 3) austromontanus.
Pronunciation: loo-PIE-nus ex-KUBE-it-us aw-stro-mon-TAY-nus.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.

 


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