Common Name: Seashore Lupine
Lupinus littoralis is a decumbent to prostrate, herbaceous perennial plant with usually branched stems; it can grow up to 80cm tall.
The plant is sometimes havested from the wild for local use as a food. It is grown as a green manure and sometimes also as an ornamental in gardens.
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 British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, northern California.
]. Grassy fields, slopes and sand dunes near the coast[
|Other Uses Rating
|Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Lupinus littoralis is a moderately cold-hardy plant, able to tolerate temperatures down to around -15°c when fully dormant[
An easily grown plant, succeeding in any moderately good soil in a sunny position[
]. It strongly dislikes excessive winter wet[
]. Requires an acid to neutral soil[
]. Succeeds in poor soils[
Plants dislike root disturbance.
The roots of this species are bright yellow in colour[
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[
Root - raw or cooked[
]. The long, starchy root can be dried and roasted[
]. A sweet flavour, almost like sugar[
]. The tough and fibrous roots are rich in starch[
]. The root is roasted and then pounded to loosen the edible fibres from the stem[
]. The roasted, dried and powdered root can be stored for winter use[
]. The roots can be up to 1 metre long[
]. Lupine roots are best not eaten raw since they contain alkaloids that could be poisonous - North American Indians would fall into a drunken sleep if they ate them raw, though they are perfectly safe when cooked[
A good green manure plant for poor soils[
]. It is quite fast growing and fixes atmospheric nitrogen.
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[