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   In hot dry areas Lupine species may be scattered, short, and have few flowers; in moist woods other Lupine become luxuriously bushy, tall, and with numerous flowers.  Lupines have a long flowering period and they are one of the most eye-catching flowering plants in the Four Corners area. (They also provide magnificent displays in many other areas, e.g., the Blue Bonnets of Texas and the Bush Lupine of the California coast).  In the Four Corners area, look for some Lupines such as L. caudatus flowering in March and April and others such as L. argenteus flowering into September.

    Because they hybridize, Lupines are often difficult to identify to the exact species. Intermountain Flora states, "The taxonomy of the small-flowered perennial lupines is notoriously difficult.  No sexual incompatibilities interfere with free genesis of fertile hybrids which blur the already precarious distinctions...."  Utah flora expert Stanley Welsh says, "The genus [Lupinus] is notoriously difficult because of lack of clear diagnostic features."

      Linnaeus named this genus in 1753.  "Lupinus" (Latin for "Wolf") was so named because of the erroneous belief that the species degraded land.

Lupinus argenteus

Lupinus argenteus

Lupinus argenteus

Lupinus argenteus

Lupinus artenteus

Lupinus argenteus

Lupinus argenteus
Lupinus argenteus (Silvery Lupine)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine.  Meadows, openings.  Summer.
Above: Upper Robertson Pasture Trail, Abajo Mountains, Utah, July 20, 2016, August 3, 2015, August 16, 2011, July 20, 2016.
Left: Lower Robertson Pasture Trail, Abajo Mountains, Utah, May 31, 2006.

Lupinus argenteus enjoys dry sunny areas as well as moist meadows and roadsides.  It is highly variable in its stature, growing from just a foot or so tall to its much more common 3 feet tall.  The plants at the top of this page are three feet tall and wide.  Leaves are broad on long petioles and flower clusters usually begin above the leaves.

Cronquist in Intermountain Flora lists dozens of synonyms for Lupinus argenteus and recounts the great difficulty in establishing its heritage, present distribution, and exact identification.

In his A Utah Flora, Welsh indicates, "The silvery lupine is represented in Utah by several more of less distinctive but intergrading varieties. Furthermore, at least some of the phases grade into other taxa, especially into L. caudatus, but also into L. sericeus. Silvery lupine, along with those species, constitutes the most common and most widespread complex of the perennial lupines in the state".

"Argenteus" is Latin for "silvery".

Meriwether Lewis collected the first specimen of this plant "on the banks of the Kooskoosky [now Clearwater] River" in Montana, probably in 1806. (Quotation from Intermountain Flora.)  Frederick Pursh named the plant in 1814.

Lupinus argenteus

Lupinus argenteus (Silvery Lupine)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine.  Meadows, openings.  Summer.
Upper Robertson Pasture Trail, Abajo Mountains, Utah, August 16, 2011.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Lupinus argenteus