Lupinus douglasii J.Agardh
Lupinus eminens Greene
Lupinus excubitus hallii (Abrams) C.P.Sm.
Lupinus excubitus johnstonii C.P.Sm.
Lupinus hallii Abrams
Common Name: Foothill Lupin
Lupinus albifrons is a rounded perennial plant, becoming more or less woody, especially near the base; it can grow up to 150cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine.
Lupinus species in general (and especially the seeds) contain a range of bitter-tasting alkaloids such as lupine, anagyrine, sparteine and hydroxylupanine. The pharmacological effects of these alkaloids are that they block ganglionic transmission, decrease cardiac contractility and contract uterine smooth muscle[
]. When ingested in moderate to large quantities they can cause symptoms such as respiratory depression and slow heartbeat, sleepiness and convulsions[
Alkaloid levels can vary greatly from species to species, and several members of the genus are used for food. In some species low-alkaloid, sweeter-tasting varieties have been developed. There are also techniques (particularly soaking and discarding the soak water) that lower the alkaloid levels.
Unless it is known that the plant is low in alkaloids then caution should be applied to any ingestion of the plant[
Fungal toxins can readily invade the crushed seed and can cause chronic illness[
Western N. America - southern Oregon, California, northern Baja California
Sandy and rocky places; at elevations up to 1,500 metres[
Lupinus albifrons is not a very cold-hardy plant, able to tolerate short-lived temperatures down to around -8°c when fully dormant. It grows best in areas with hot summers. In areas with cooler summers (even if the winters are mild), such as the maritime regions of the temperate zone, it often grows poorly, failing to properly ripen its wood and suffering frost damage over the winter[
Members of this genus are mainly found in dry habitats, often on stony and low fertility soils[
]. In cultivation they generally grow well if given a sunny position in a deep, well-drained, moderately fertile soil with a neutral to slightly acid pH[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
A decoction of the plant is drunk, and also used as a steam bath, in the treatment of gastro-intestinal problems[
We have no specific information for this species, but the soakwater used to extract alkaloids from several edible species of lupin has been shown to be effective as a biocide[
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in early spring in a greenhouse[
]. The seed is best sown in individual pots since the plants strongly resent root disturbance. Germination should take place within a couple of weeks. If sown in trays, then the seedlings should be potted up into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Plant out in early summer when the plants are around 15cm tall.
It should also be possible to sow the seed in situ in mid to late spring. Protect the seed from mice.
Cuttings of short side-shoots with a heel, mid summer in a frame[
Basal cuttings, mid spring in a cold frame. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up in a very sandy soil in individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.
Division in early spring. Difficult.
Lupin propagation is usually carried out by seed - vegetative propagation is normally only used when propagating named cultivars[