We are following the treatment in the USDA on-line resource 'Plants Database', but this species is sometimes treated as a variety of Lupinus lepidus Douglas ex Lindl. (as Lupinus lepidus lobbii (A.Gray ex S.Watson) C.L.Hitchc.
Lupinus alcis-temporis C.P.Sm.
Lupinus danaus A.Gray
Lupinus fruticulosus Greene
Lupinus perditorum Greene
Lupinus minutifolius Eastw.
Lupinus aridus washoensis (A.Heller) C.P.Sm.
Lupinus washoensis A.Heller
Common Name: Dwarf Mountain Lupin
Lupinus lyallii is a semi-prostrate, perennial plant producing a cluster of stems from a stout, woody rotstock; the plant can grow around 12cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of dyes.
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 - British Colombia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada
Dry ridges and summits; at elevations from 2,400 - 3,300 metres[
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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[
The crushed plant is applied topically to treat boils[
A blue dye is obtained from the flowers[
A green dye is obtained from the plant (part not specified)[
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.
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[