Introducing the star of the show... Lupine!
It’s Lupine Fest! So…what exactly is lupine and why are we celebrating it?
Lupine Fest celebrates the emergence of wild blue lupine (Lupinus perennis) each spring. This native perennial wildflower boasts spikes of purple, white and occasionally pink blossoms in mid to late May through early June. It is a delight to find them in full bloom along the trails of the preserve!
There are many different kinds of lupine in the world. The locally-occurring wild blue lupine thrives in sandy, well drained soils in landscapes that are frequently disturbed. Sand dunes and reoccurring fire made the Pine Bush historically an excellent habitat for our local lupine. A great effort is made today to ensure this plant, and the diversity of life that depends on it, continues to survive.
We celebrate the blooming of the wild blue lupine each year to raise awareness about the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and the endangered Karner blue butterfly.
You may know wild blue lupine by its other common name, "sundial lupine." While a less frequently used name here at the Pine Bush, it points out a fascinating feature of this plant. Sundial lupine leaves have been observed to follow the sun!
A little history on a scientific name
The genus of wild blue lupine, Lupinus comes from the Latin word lupus meaning "wolf." According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, it was once believed that these plants robbed the soil of nutrients, which is actually the opposite of the truth! With the help of symbiotic bacteria, lupine help to increase soil nitrogen.
An important food source
Wild blue lupine supports a diversity of life including two rare insects in the Pine Bush. Larvae of the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly feed exclusively on wild blue lupine leaves while the state threatened frosted elfin butterfly feeds on its seed pods.