Late yesterday, I posed several questions about a plant that is special to me. Today, the answers will be provided!
The first question was:
Do you know the common name for this plant?
The answer is this plant Wild Blue Lupine. The scientific name is Lupinus perennis.
This photo shows an example of a mature form of the plant.
It has other names such as wild perennial lupine, sundial lupine, blue lupine, Indian beet, or old maid’s bonnets, per Wikipedia.
Next, I asked:
Where does it grow? When might you find it blooming?
These photos were all taken at the Holland Sand Prairie in Northern La Crosse County, Wisconsin. This is conserved land in that it is protected and managed by several community groups such as Friends of the Holland Sand Prairie, the Town of Holland, as well as the Mississippi Valley Conservancy, a Wisconsin Land Trust. It is also designated as a State Natural Area (SNA).
Given the name of this property, and the fact that wild blue lupines grow on it, you should now have some idea of where this plant grows. The Wild Blue Lupine likes sandy soil and wide-open sunny spaces. It can be found in prairies, established fields, oak barrens, and sometimes roadsides or ridges in Wisconsin.
The Wild Blue Lupine is related to the pea family and produces seed pods open and distribute the seeds in July. Typically the plant blooms mid-May through June. The flowers are a welcome sight in my home gardens in late Spring.
The most significant questions are:
Does it have any significance for conservation?
Why or why not?
What insect relies on this plant to sustain
its entire life cycle?
Yes, it does! The Wild Blue Lupine attracts many pollinators. These include bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and game birds. Significantly, the plant is the only food for the caterpillar stage of the tiny Karner Blue Butterfly. With the disappearance of habitat, both the plant and consequently the butterfly have decreased in numbers. The WI DNR has a significant amount of information on the butterfly. Over the years, conservation efforts to save and restore habitat have significantly helped this butterfly to rebound. There are several small populations of Karner Blues in other states. However, I believe at this time, Wisconsin is home to the largest population of this endangered butterfly.
The Karner Blue survives in areas that have a habitat that includes the essential Wild Lupine plant. Many of the above links provide more information.
If you refer to my Teachers Pay Teachers Page at Garden Club Lessons, you’ll find a Venn Diagram that I have used in the past to compare the life cycles of the Monarch and Karner Blue Butterflies.
Did you enjoy learning about Wild Blue Lupine and the Karner Blue Butterfly that depends on this plant? If so, let me know if the comments! Thank you!
Early next week I will be releasing a new summer enrichment activity on Monarchs! My goal with these activities is not to provide all the answers but to stimulate interest in kids and parents, alike so that they are motivated to learn about our natural world. The best type of learning is that which is self-directed.
Additional Source: Prairie Plants of the University of Wisconsin- Madison Arboretum. (2006). Authors Theodore S. Cochrane, Kandis Elliot, and Claudia S. Lipke.