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

Lupinus nootkatensis Donn ex Sims
Nootka lupine
Fabaceae (Pea family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Virginia Skilton  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #80957)

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Distribution of Lupinus nootkatensis
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a stout, woody stem-base; stems few to several, erect or ascending, up to 1 m tall but barely 10 cm in exposed areas, often cylindric-hollow, soft-shaggy (especially when young) to short-stiff-hairy.
Alternate, palmately compound on stalks rarely twice as long as the longest leaflet; leaflets 5 to 8, broadly oblanceolate, blunt to rounded at the tip, 1-7 cm long, shaggy-soft-hairy below but generally glabrous above.
Inflorescence a stalked, terminal raceme, 5-35 cm long, of whorled pea-like flowers; corollas bluish, often tinged with white or pink, 15-21 mm long, the banner circular, glabrous, the wings slightly longer than the banner, the keel fringed with hairs along the upper edges; calyces 2-lipped, the upper lip 2-lobed and 6-8 mm long, the lower lip 3-toothed, boat-shaped, bent backwards, 6-12 mm long.
Pods, 3-6 cm long, silky-hairy; seeds 7 to 11.
Two sympatric extremes are usually recognized.

1. Hairs spreading, long and shaggy; stems 10-15 mm in diameter.................var. nootkatensis

1. Hairs appressed or short and soft-wavy; stems usually less than 9 mm in diameter................ var. fruticosus Sims

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Early Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Mesic to moist meadows, riverbars, streambanks, shorelines, clearings, roadsides, thickets and forest openings in the lowland to lower alpine zones; common along the coast south to N Vancouver Island, frequent in the Coast Mountains, occasionally inland to the Rocky Mountains, rare in S BC; N to AK and YT.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Additional Notes

Based on research by B. Magnusson, B.D. Sigurdsson, S.H. Magnusson & S. Baldursson in Norway, key information on the seed ecology of Nootka lupine has emerged, as follows: Nootka Lupine is an introduced species in Norway that is used in land reclamation projects. The species forms a persistent seed bank in the soil, and the seed bank is buried significantly deeper in older plots, which indicates that the seeds may last for many years in the soil. Research on several populations has shown that seeds from plants at the outer edges of populations disperse only 3 m, with seed dispersal beginning in early August and peaking in late September. The highest number of buried seeds was found under older lupine patches. Where grasslands had replaced lupines, a viable seed bank persisted in the soil.

Notes References:

Magnusson, B., S.H. Magnusson & B.D. Sigurdsson. 2004. Plant succession in areas colonized by the introduced Nootka lupin in Iceland. In: Proceedings of the 10th International Lupine Conference. Wild and Cultivated Lupins from the Tropics to the Poles, Laugarvatn, Iceland, 19-24 June 2002 (Ed. E. van Santen). Intern. Lupin Ass., pp. 170-177.

Magnusson, B., Magnusson, S.H. & B.D. Sigurdsson. 2001. Vegetation succession in areas colonized by the introduced Nootka lupin (Lupinus nootkatensis) in Iceland. Fjölrit RALA, 207, 100 pp. (In Icelandic, English summary). Sigurdsson, B.D., B. Magnusson & S.H. Magnusson. 1995. Regrowth of Nootka lupine after cutting. In: B. Magnusson (ed.) Biological studies of Nootka lupine (Lupinus nootkatensis) in Iceland – Growth, seed set, chemical content and effect of cutting. Fjölrit RALA, 178, 28-37.

Magnusson, B., B.D. Sigurdsson, S.H. Magnusson & S. Baldursson. 1995. Growth and yield of Nootka lupine. In: B. Magnusson (ed.) Biological studies of Nootka lupine (Lupinus nootkatensis) in Iceland – Growth, seed set, chemical content and effect of cutting. Fjölrit RALA, 178, 9-27.

Magnusson, B. & B.D. Sigurdsson. 1995. Protein, minerals, fibres and alkaloid content of Nootka lupine. In: B. Magnusson (ed.) Biological studies of Nootka lupine (Lupinus nootkatensis) in Iceland – Growth, seed set, chemical content and effect of cutting. Fjölrit RALA, 178, 44-65.

Note Author: R. Klinkenberg, July 2009


Ecological Framework for Lupinus nootkatensis

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) 0 977 1920
Slope Gradient (%) 0 22 90
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 155 359
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 4 7
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(1), BAFA(6), CMA(2), CWH(28), ESSF(24), ICH(1), IMA(2), MH(3), MS(2), SBS(2)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade- tolerant/ intolerant, submontane to montane, Western North American forb distributed more in the Pacific than the Cordilleran-region. Occurs on nitrogen-rich soils (Moder or Mull humus forms) with boreal and temperate, and cool mesothermal climates. Sporadic in meadow-like communities and open-canopy forests on water-receiving sites; more common in early-seral communities on cutover and bumt sites where it inhabits exposed mineral soil. Symbiotic relationship with nitrogen­fixing 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 not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References