Herb: Tree Lupin

Latin name: Lupinus arboreus

Family: Leguminosae

Description of the plant:


150 cm
(5 feet)

May to


Habitat of Tree Lupin:

Stable sand dunes, coastal scrub and pine forest close to the coast. Naturalized by the sea in S. England.

Other uses of the herb:

A bright yellow dye is obtained from the flowers. The root fibres have been used to make a string for making nets etc. Plants are used in land reclamation schemes to stabilize sandy soils and dunes. Because they are fast growing and tolerant of maritime exposure, they quickly provide shelter for other plants as well as enriching the soil with nitrogen. An excellent pioneering plant in permaculture, even in exposed areas it grows rapidly to its maximum height of about 1.5 metres and will give shelter to enable other less tolerant plants to become established. It is especially useful for helping the establishment of shrubs and herbaceous perennials in small gardens.

Propagation of Tree Lupin:

Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in early spring in a greenhouse. Germination should take place within a couple of weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer. It should also be possible to sow the seed in situ in mid to late spring. Protect the seed from mice. Cuttings of short side-shoots with a heel, July/August in a frame.

Cultivation of the herb:

Stable sand dunes, coastal scrub and pine forest close to the coast. Naturalized by the sea in S. England.

Medicinal use of Tree Lupin:

None known

Known hazards of Lupinus arboreus:

The seed of many lupin species contain bitter-tasting toxic alkaloids, though there are often sweet varieties within that species that are completely wholesome. Taste is a very clear indicator. These toxic alkaloids can be leeched out of the seed by soaking it overnight and discarding the soak water. It may also be necessary to change the water once during cooking. Fungal toxins also readily invade the crushed seed and can cause chronic illness.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.