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

Lupinus arcticus S. Watson
arctic lupine
Fabaceae (Pea family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Province of British Columbia (Bill Jex)  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #3314)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Lupinus arcticus
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Species Information

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Perennnial herb from a branched, woody stem-base; stems several, erect to ascending, 20-60 cm tall, with mostly short, appressed to spreading, silky hairs
Most basal on long stalks (in the north) to most along the stem and alternate on short stalks (in the south), palmately compound; leaflets 6 to 10, narrowly oblanceolate to elliptic, pointed to rounded at the tip, 2-9 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide, glabrous or sparsely hairly above, stiff-hairy below.
Inflorescence a terminal raceme of numerous, more or less whorled pea-like flowers, the racemes 5-15 cm long on stalks 4-8 cm long; corollas blue, rarely whitish to pink, 14-20 mm long, the banner circular and notched at the tip, glabrous, the wings usually glabrous, the keel glabrous or with a few fringing hairs along the upper edges; calyces 2-lipped, the lower lip 5-11 mm long, the upper lip 2-toothed at the tip, 4-8 mm long.
Pods, 2-4 cm long, silky to coarse-hairy; seeds 5 to 8
Two subspecies, which intergrade where their ranges overlap, occur in BC.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Yellow
Present over the
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic meadows, gravel bars, clearing, roadsides, thickets, and open forests in all zones; ssp. arcticus -- common in BC N of 55 N, ssp. subalpinus -- common in BC Sof 55 N, except absent from the Queen Charlotte Islands; ssp. arcticus -- N to AK, YT and NT, ssp. subalpinus -- S to N OR.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Lupinus arcticus

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) 9 1492 2440
Slope Gradient (%) 0 23 270
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 185 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
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: AT(19), BAFA(133), BG(1), BWBS(208), CMA(39), CWH(4), ESSF(1463), ICH(151), IDF(177), IMA(5), MH(33), MS(497), PP(3), SBPS(42), SBS(121), SWB(235)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-intolerant, montane to alpine, North American forb distributed in the Cordilleran and Central regions. Occurs in continental alpine tundra and boreal climates on nitrogen-rich (Moder or Mull humus forms): its occurrence increases with increasing latitude and continentality. Scattered to plentiful in early-seral and meadow-like communities in the coast-interior ecotone: often inhabits exposed mineral soil. Symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing organisms enhances the supply of available soil nitrogen. Characteristic of disturbed sites.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


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 alpine tundra & boreal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Lupinus arcticus var. humicola (A. Nelson) C.P. Sm.
Lupinus candicans Rydb.
Lupinus diversalpicola C.P. Sm.
Lupinus flavescens Rydb.
Lupinus humicola A. Nelson
Lupinus polyphyllus var. humicola (A. Nelson) Barneby
Lupinus rydbergii Blank.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References