Interesting facts about lupins

lupins

Lupin or Lupine is any species of the genus Lupinus, annual or perennial herbs or shrubs of the family Leguminosae.

There are about 200 different species of lupins in the world.

They are native to North and South America, North Africa and the Mediterranean.

Today, they are found all over the world exept in polar regions.

The term lupine, from the Latin for “wolf,” derives from the mistaken belief that these plants depleted, or “wolfed,” minerals from the soil. The contrary is true, however; lupines aid soil fertility by fixing nitrogen from the air in a soil form useful for other plants.

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Consumed throughout the Mediterranean region and the Andean mountains, lupins were eaten by the early Egyptian and pre-Incan people and were known to Roman agriculturalists for their ability to improve the fertility of soils.

The legume seeds of lupins, commonly called lupin beans, were popular with the Romans, who cultivated the plants throughout the Roman Empire.

Lupins were also used by many Native American peoples such as the Yavapai in North America.

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The Andean lupin or tarwi (Lupinus mutabilis) was a widespread food in the Incan Empire.

In the late 18th century, lupins were introduced into northern Europe as a means of improving soil quality, and by the 1860s, the garden yellow lupin was seen across the sandy soils of the Baltic coastal plain.

In New Zealand lupins have escaped into the wild and grow in large numbers along main roads and streams in South Island.

The species are mostly herbaceous perennial plants from 0.3 to 1.5 m (1 to 5 ft) tall, but some are annual plants and a few are shrubs up to 3 m (10 ft) tall.

An exception is the chamis de monte (Lupinus jaimehintoniana) of Oaxaca in Mexico, which is a tree up to 8 m (26 ft) tall.

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Most species have compact, upright flower spikes, and through hybridization and selection some highly ornamental varieties have been developed.

They have a characteristic and easily recognised leaf shape, with soft green to grey-green or silvery leaves with the blades usually palmately divided into 5–17 leaflets or reduced to a single leaflet in a few species of the southeastern United States; in many species, the leaves are hairy with silvery hairs, often densely so.

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The flowers are produced in dense or open whorls on an erect spike, each flower 1–2 cm (0.4 to 0.8 in) long. The pea-like flowers have an upper standard, or banner, two lateral wings, and two lower petals fused into a keel. The flower shape has inspired common names such as bluebonnets and quaker bonnets.

The fruit is a pod containing several seeds.

They are widely cultivated, both as a food source and as ornamental plants.

As a garden flower the lupine is a favorite because of the various colors and the tall spikes of bonnet-shaped blossoms. Purple color is most common, but there are also blue, yellow, pink and white
varieties.

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Many annual species of lupins are used in agriculture and most of them have Mediterranean origin.

Lupin flower symbolizes happiness and imagination.

Lupin or lupini beans are the yellow legume seeds of lupins. They are traditionally eaten as a pickled snack food, primarily in the Mediterranean basin and Latin America. The bitter variety of the beans are high in alkaloids and are extremely bitter unless rinsed methodically.

Like other legumes, they can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into ammonia via a rhizobium–root nodule symbiosis, fertilizing the soil for other plants. This adaption allows lupins to be tolerant of infertile soils and capable of pioneering change in barren and poor-quality soils.

Bluebonnets, including the Texas bluebonnet (L. texensis), are the state flowers of Texas.

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