Description. Lupine is a representative of the genus of annual, biennial, perennial rhizome plants of the Legume family, herbaceous and semishrubs, it is also called the wolf bean. There are from 200 to 1000 species that grow in different parts of the globe. For cultivation of lupine as a green manure crop, certain varieties of lupine are taken: lupine white, blue (also narrow-leaved), lupine yellow.
Among them there are ten-centimetric babies and giants reaching four meters, there are herbaceous perennials, annual and even shrubs. The leaves of the bean are digitate, on long petioles, collected in a radical rosette; stem leaves. Flowers of white, yellow, purple, blue, pink, cream, carmine, red and even purple color. Fruits are beans.
With such an impressive variety, all lupines have common signs characteristic of both this genus and other plants of this family. The wolf bean has a main root, on which nodules of bacteria are located. Due to this, the plants have an excellent ability to accumulate nitrogen in the soil, which makes them unsurpassed green manure crops. It's not for nothing that lupine is called a wolf bean, because its ability to survive even in the most unsuitable conditions, assimilating nutrients from the soil, is impressive.
The birthplace of lupine is the northwestern regions of the North America, so this type of beans is common in the regions of Russia in its harsh climate, grows even in the taiga zone, forests, along the roadsides.
There grow 4 kinds of lupines in Russia:
Lupine white (Lupinus albus) is an annual self-pollinating lupine, grows up to 1.5-2 m, with white flowers. Together with yellow and narrow-leaved ones, white lupines grow in many countries, including Russia, it is a very valuable crop. This crop is heat-loving, heat-resistant and quite drought-resistant, demanding for soils. Its seeds are large, white or white-pink. The mass of 1000 seeds is 240-500 g.
Lupine yellow (Lupinus luteus) is an annual, cross-pollinating lupine, up to 1 m high, with yellow flowers. In comparison with the blue lupine, it is less cold-resistant, more heat-loving. Its seeds are of white or pink color with black speckles. The mass of 1000 seeds is 120-150 g.
Lupine blue, or narrow-leaved (Lupinus angustifolius) is a self-pollen annual lupine, up to 1.5 m high, with blue-violet, sometimes pale pink and white flowers. It is characterized by early maturity and considerable cold resistance. Its seeds are rounded, with a marble pattern on a matte background. The weight of 1000 seeds is 150-200g.
Washington lupine (Latin Lupinus polyphyllus Lindl.), is a perennial cross-pollinating plant, reaches a height of about 80-120 cm, is more common in crop, it is the most winter-hardy and unpretentious among all other species. The life expectancy of this type of beans is 8-10 years. The crop is decorative, early maturing and very cold-resistant.
The planting scheme of lupine is very simple - the seeds should be sown to a depth of 3 to 4 cm in narrow grooves between which there should be left 20 cm. A distance of 10 cm is maintained between adjacent plants. These parameters are average and may increase or decrease already depending on the size of the plants.
Lupine needs to be mowed off two months after planting, at this time it already has time to flower and acquire green pods. There is no need to dig up beds with lupine. It is enough to mow off the green mass, cut the roots with a subsurface cultivator and pour it all with the ground. If it happens in dry weather, then irrigation is necessary. It will not be superfluous to use preparations with effective microorganisms that can be replaced with herbal infusions.
Application. Lupine seeds have been used for human food and for animal feed since ancient times. The green mass of non-alkaloid varieties is also an excellent fodder. Lupine beans are an excellent substitute of soy. Due to the excellent ability to accumulate nitrogen in the soil, lupine is a wonderful green manure crop. Its use as a green fertilizer allows to keep the environment clean, to cultivate environmentally friendly products.
It is also used in medicine and pharmacology, floriculture, forestry and even as a fodder for fish breeding.
The plant does not give off nectar, but gives a fine pollen to the honey bees.
A perennial (Washington) lupine can serve as an extraordinary decoration for your garden, it will undoubtedly fit into any flower garden. Due to the huge number of shapes and varieties, the palette of Washington lupine is incredibly diverse: from snow-white to dense violet color, including bicolour flowers.