Herb: Pearl Lupin

Latin name: Lupinus mutabilis

Family: Leguminosae

Edible parts of Pearl Lupin:

Seed - cooked. Used as a protein-rich vegetable or savoury dish in any of the ways that cooked beans are used. The seed can also be ground into a meal and then used with cereal flours in making bread etc. The seed contains up to 50% protein that is rich in lysine and cystine but very low in methionine. If the seed is bitter this is due to the presence of toxic alkaloids, these alkaloids can usually be removed by soaking the seed overnight and discarding the water. Another report suggests that the seed needs to be soaked for 2 - 3 days in order to leech out the alkaloids. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. It is relatively rich in unsaturated fatty acids, including the nutritionally essential linoleic acid.

Description of the plant:


150 cm
(5 feet)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Found in the Andes.

Other uses of Pearl Lupin:

Seed yields up to 18% of an edible oil with uses similar to Soya oil (Glycine soya). Soya oil has a very wide range of applications and is commonly used in the chemical industry. It is also used in making soap, plastics, paints etc. An excellent green manure crop, it is able to fix as much as 400kg of atmospheric nitrogen per hectare.

Propagation of the herb:

Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and sow in mid spring in situ. You may need to protect the seed from mice. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. The seed can also be sown in situ as late as early summer as a green manure crop.

Cultivation of Pearl Lupin:

Found in the Andes.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Lupinus mutabilis:

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.