Lupine – A Beautiful Rocky Mountain Flower


Photo via Flickr.

Lupine is a truly special wildflower that can be found growing in the Rocky Mountains.  Here are some fun facts about this common flower of the Rockies.

When I first started hiking in the Rocky Mountains I recall seeing some Lupine flowers growing.  I was blown away by how beautiful they were.  For me, they represented everything special about the Rocky Mountains – wild and magnificent.  Read on to learn some fun facts about this flower, including where the name comes from.

What Are The Origins Of The Name Lupine?

The name comes from the latin word ‘lupus’, which means wolf or wolfish.  It got this name because it was thought to ‘wolf down’ all of the nutrients in the soil.  In fact, now research has shown that it helps soil fertility.

The Basics of Lupine

There are actually many different species including, silvery, dwarf, and silky which can be found in the Rocky Mountains.  The varieties of this flower vary in height from 3 inches (dwarf) up to over five feet tall for a species in Europe.  The tallest of the species in the Rockies only grows up to 2 feet tall.

This is a member of the pea and bean family.  The seeds come in pods, just like pea pods.

The leaves are palmate with between 9 and 17 leaflets.


These beautiful flowers come in many colors. Photo via Flickr.

The flowers of the species mainly range from blue to purple.  But, it is also possible to have some flowers that look pink or white.  The flowers grow on tall stalks in a conical cluster.  Basically, that mens that there may be one tall stem standing up that is tightly covered in flowers.  The overall impression is like the end of q-tip covered in beautiful flowers.

Special Notes About Lupine

Some species can be toxic and quite harmful to cattle or sheep that eat it.


These flowers can grow in very dry areas. Photo via Flickr.

It is interesting to look closely at the leaves of lupine.  They all point inward and are slightly creased.  This is an adaptation that minimizes the amount of water lost and allows this flower to grow in dry areas.

Lupine Is Special For Me

I don’t know what it is about this flower, but it holds a very special place in my heart.  You know how some songs bring back a fond memory for you, well certain flowers or animals do that for me.

I have been lucky enough to have many memorable times in the mountains near this flower.  Once I camped in an entire field of Lupine flowers in the Peruvian Andes.  That was a magical night hanging out in this high valley surrounded by these flowers, watching the stars come out.