Scientific name: Lupinus burkei

There are 25 different species of lupine in the Blue Mountains. Most of them have blue or purple flowers and are difficult to tell apart from each other. Lupines as a group have a showy raceme of flowers at the ends of the stems, and leaves that are divided into several narrow leaflets that are in a single whorl at the ends of the leaf stem.

Burke's Lupine is one that is fairly easy to distinguish. It is somewhat bushy and larger than most lupine plants, has bright blue flowers, and the large leaves are smooth and hairless. The plant is generally about 3 feet high, and the leaflets are up to nearly 4 inches long.

Although lupines were cultivated for food in ancient Egypt and Italy, most of our species of lupine are not safe to eat. Some of our species are fatal to sheep and others can cause calves to be stillborn, especially in years when grasses are not plentiful.

Where to find: Look for this plant in moist forest areas with partial shade, at middle to upper elevations, where it is blooming now at 3,500 feet or higher.

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