Springtime brings with it an unmistakable riot of colors and blooms. The lupin flower, or lupines as they are commonly known, are a beautiful spring and summertime flowering plant. Lupin flowers are also popularly known as bluebonnets. It belongs to the Lupinus genus of the pea or Fabaceae family. The unmistakable tell-tale tall spires of the lupin flower provide an interesting colorful architecture to garden landscapes and flower beds.
There are over 200 species of the lupin flower. The parent species of the lupin flower are native to North America. These hardy flowering plants are now cultivated across North America, the Mediterranean, and other European regions. Most contemporary varieties of the lupin flower available today were developed by a horticulturist, George Russell, in the early 1900s. The varieties developed by Russell are popularly propagated and cultivated today. His varieties became popular for their bright vibrant colors and densely packed flowers.
Care and Growth
Lupin flowers form tall dense spire-like or tower-shaped flowers. The flowers are usually blue, purple, red, pink, white, yellow, or bi-colored. Most hybrid varieties available today are herbaceous annual or perennial plants that grow up to 3-4 feet tall and about 1.5 meters wide. The plant is relatively hardy and requires full sun exposure, and rich, moist, and well-drained soil. The foliage is also interesting. The leaves are shaped like fans or palms and grow in segments of 7-10 leaflets each around the stalk of the plant. The flowers bloom during the spring and summer seasons.
The lupin flowers’ nectar attracts honey bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. However, some varieties of the lupin flower are poisonous and toxic for animals and humans too such as the silky lupin and the velvet lupin. The plant’s toxicity, which stems from the high levels of alkaloids found in its seeds, wanes as the plant grows older. Most of these toxic varieties are found in the wild and can prove dangerous for livestock.
What do Lupin Flowers Symbolize?
The lupin flower’s meaning dates back to the 14th century. The flower gets its name from the Latin word for wolf, ‘Lupus’. It was originally believed that the lupin flower plant did not allow other plants to grow near it. When it was discovered it was found to be growing alone. Botanists believed that the lupin plants sapped the soil of all its nutrients and goodness, thereby preventing other plants from growing and thriving. The poor quality of the soil around the plants led people to wrongly assume that lupins would only thrive alone in such conditions. Hence, the name lupin symbolizing the hungry and voracious appetite of wolves!
In truth, the lupin flower is actually a nitrogen-fixing plant! The lupin plant converts nitrogen from the air and returns it to the soil thereby fertilizing it in the process. This actually benefits other plants growing in the soil as nitrogen is one of the main components of plant compost for healthy growth!
Lupin flower meaning associated with the wolf is also symbolic of a great appetite or hunger for life and love. It is symbolic of a wolf’s strength and loyalty to its pack or family.
The beautiful blooms also symbolize the lupin flower meanings of adoration or admiration, happiness, and creative imagination. They are symbolic of new opportunities, renewal, positive outlook, and growth.
Apart from its association with the wolf, lupin flowers are said to embody the mythical beauty and grace of the goddesses Venus and Aphrodite.
Culturally, the lupin flower meaning of imagination comes from the enlightened writings of the Romans. Pliny wrote about the uses of Lupines as a food article that can contribute to the cheerfulness of mind and freshness of complexion. Hippocrates, the Greek physician, described Lupines as a food item along with peas, lentils, and beans. This is significant of the use of lupins today as a food item.
Biblically, the lupin flower symbolizes one’s mortality. It is a reminder of the fleeting nature of one’s wealth and power.
Lupin Flower Meaning: Colors and Symbolism
Lupin flower meanings are as amazing and diverse as the flower varieties themselves. Lupin flowers come in a variety of colors such as blue, purple, red, pink, yellow, white, or bi-colored. The flowers symbolize admiration, happiness, new opportunities, renewal, and growth. They also convey messages of good health and fortune.
Blue Lupin Flower Meaning
Blue lupin flowers symbolize empathy and sensitivity to feelings and emotions. They represent a deep sense of understanding and acceptance of those undergoing difficult emotions and sorrows.
Purple Lupin Flower Meaning
Purple lupin flowers are a symbol of noble grace and royalty. They also stand for determination, loyalty, and generosity of spirit. They convey the kindness of one’s heart.
Red Lupin Flower Meaning
Red lupins symbolize passion, admiration or adoration, and endurance. They represent the courage and determination embodied by brave and resolute individuals
Pink Lupin Flower Meaning
Pink lupin flowers are symbolic of our cherished memories of near and dear ones who have moved on. These flowers stand for the precious and unforgettable memories of times past of loved ones.
Yellow Lupin Flower Meaning
Yellow lupins are indicative of a deep sense of adventure and exploration. These flowers represent people with adventurous spirits, a never-say-never attitude, and those always open to new experiences and challenges. The yellow blooms of the lupin flower also symbolize the uncertainty of life’s journey and the struggles for survival.
White Lupin Flower Meaning
White lupin flowers represent purity, forgiveness, and a deep sense of compassion for others. They are symbolic of selflessness and the sacrifices we make for our loved and cherished ones.
Interesting Facts and Characteristics of the Lupin Flower
The most popular variety of the lupin flower is the bluebonnet. It is the sturdiest of all lupin flower varieties. The bluebonnet holds the distinction for being the state flower of Texas since 1901.
Lupines are relatively hardy plants that require little maintenance. They pretty much take care of themselves and need little watering unless they are grown in dry climates. They make for vibrant and colorful additions to the garden and their symbolism adds meaning to the existing flora.
Apart from fixing nitrogen in the soil for the benefit of other plants, lupines are also edible. Of course, some varieties, especially those growing in the wild, are toxic to animals and humans. But cultivated varieties of the lupin plant are an edible food source!
Lupin seeds have been used as food for over 3000 years by the early Egyptians and Mediterranean people and for over 6000 years by pre-Incan people in the Andes. They are an excellent source of protein comparable to soy. They are low in fat, high in fiber, amino acids, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and prebiotics, and are gluten-free! Food-grade processed lupin seeds are striped of the toxic components of lupinine and sparteine, rendering them safe for consumption.
The seeds must be cooked as they cannot be eaten raw. They have a slightly bitter taste. Despite efforts to sweeten the seeds through breeding, most notably in Australia, they retain some of their bitterness and have not been adopted widely as a popular food item. Australia grows about 85% of the world’s lupin seeds! Nonetheless, lupin seeds are still used in cooking as flour or cooking oil and as appetizers or snacks where they are roasted and salted like peanuts.
Lupines were introduced to northern Europe in the 18th century as food for livestock, poultry, and pigs. To date, non-toxic lupin varieties are an important fodder protein for cattle in North America and Europe.
Indigenous Native Americans use the lupin plant for medicinal purposes. A tea made from the leaves is used to treat nausea and internal bleeding. A poultice of lupin leaves is used to provide relief from inflammation, arthritis, and boils.
Cosmetically, in ancient times, lupin seeds were mixed with other ingredients to soften skin and freshen women’s complexions. In contemporary times, the oil from lupin seeds is used in dermatological formulations that promote cellular repair and regrowth!
Best Time to Gift Someone Lupin Flowers
The diverse lupin flower meanings and symbolism make this flower a perfect gift for a wide variety of occasions. The hardy nature of the plant and its ability to thrive in difficult conditions convey meanings of strength and resilience. The blooms also carry messages of adoration or admiration, hope, and love.
Lupin flowers can be presented to people on occasions of success or during difficult and trying times. They are symbolic of hope and optimism for the future and can be presented as a sign of encouragement and motivation.
They are also an excellent gift of thanks and gratitude. They can be presented to people who have lent you their support, loyalty, and companionship during times when you were struggling and needed help.
Lupin blooms can also be gifted to people celebrating certain important milestones. The dense, tiny flowers on the long tower-shaped blooms of the lupins are representative of the tiny steps and obstacles overcome on the journey to reach the milestone.
As a perennial flowering plant, the colorful blooms of the lupin carry diverse meanings and symbolism. You can hardly go wrong with including a few lupin blooms in your floral gifts and presentations. They convey a wide variety of positive and hopeful messages. They make for an ideal gift in a wide variety of circumstances and are particularly notable for their messages of adoration, hope, and happiness.