Herb: Seashore Lupine

Latin name: Lupinus littoralis

Family: Leguminosae

Edible parts of Seashore Lupine:

Root - raw or cooked. The root can be dried and roasted. A sweet flavour, almost like sugar. The tough and fibrous roots are rich in starch. The root is roasted and then pounded to loosen the edible fibres from the stem. The roasted, dried and powdered root can be stored for winter use. The roots can be up to 1 metre long. Lupine roots are best not eaten raw since they contain alkaloids that could be poisonous - North American Indians would fall into a drunken sleep if they ate them raw, though they are perfectly safe when cooked.

Description of the plant:


45 cm
(1 foot)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Sandy seashores.

Other uses of Seashore Lupine:

A good green manure plant for poor soils. It is quite fast growing and fixes atmospheric nitrogen.

Propagation of the herb:

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 the summer. It should also be possible to sow the seed in situ in mid spring. It might be necessary to protect the sowing from mice. Division in March. Difficult. Basal cuttings, April in a cold frame. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Cultivation of Seashore Lupine:

Sandy seashores.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Lupinus littoralis:

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.