E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Lupinus arboreus Sims
tree lupine (yellow bush lupine)
Fabaceae (Pea family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Brian Klinkenberg  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #24439)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Lupinus arboreus
Click here to view our interactive map and legend
Details about map content are available here
Click on the map dots to view record details.


Tree lupine, or yellow bush lupine, is found in North America along the north and central Pacific coast, often in coastal bluffs and dunes, but has naturalized further north (Riggins and Sholars 1993). It is an introduced and invasive species in British Columbia, and has naturalized in coastal areas of the southwestern part of the province. On the mainland, it has been reported from Powell River, Delta and New Westminster (Annacis Island and Lulu Island). On Vancouver Island, it has been reported from Tofino, the Wickaninnish dunes, Sooke, and Swartz Bay. It is particularly abundant in the Sooke area where it occurs interspersed with Scotch broom. While lupines can be difficult to identify, this species is easy to recognize. It can reach heights of six or seven feet, and is the only shrub species of lupine found in BC. It has distinctive yellow (sometimes grading to blue) flowers (Riggins and Sholars 1993). It is an aromatic, sweet-smelling plant that readily attracts pollinators.

Species Information

Click on the image below to view an expanded illustration for this species.

Short-lived, somewhat shrubby perennial from a woody stem-base and deep heavy root; stems erect, 1-1.5 (2) m tall, much-branched with numerous leafy, short branches in the axils of the main leaves, short-hairy to silky-hairy.
Alternate, palmately compound with 5 to 11 leaflets; leaflets oblanceolate, 3-6 cm long, 4-7 mm wide, short-hairy to silky on the lower surface.
Inflorescence a terminal, stalked raceme of pea-like, more or less whorled flowers; corollas yellow or white to sometimes bluish, 14-20 mm long on stalks 4-9 mm long, the banner glabrous and bent backwards at the midpoint, the wings glabrous, the keel fringed with hairs along the upper edges; calyces silky-hairy, the upper lip 2-toothed, the lower lip entire and boat-shaped.
Pods, 4-6 cm long, about 1 cm wide, long-soft-hairy; seeds 8 to 12, dark brown, 5 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Mid Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present over the Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Dry to mesic bluffs, sandy beaches, eroding banks and other disturbed sites; rare on SE Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and adjacent mainland; introduced from CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Lupinus arboreus

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 1046 1048 1051
Slope Gradient (%) 4 13 30
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
72 62 356
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 4 5
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: MS(1), SBPS(2)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

Species References

Rhonda Riggins and Teresa Sholars. 1993. Lupinus arboreus treatment. In: Hickman, James C. The Jepson Manual of the Higher Plants of California. University of California Press, Los Angeles.

General References