Herb: Blue Lupine

Latin name: Lupinus nootkatensis

Family: Leguminosae

Edible parts of Blue Lupine:

Seed - cooked. Used as a protein-rich vegetable or savoury dish in any of the ways that cooked beans are used, they can also be roasted or ground into a powder. If the seed is bitter this is due to the presence of toxic alkaloids and the seed should be thoroughly leached before being cooked. Root - raw or cooked. Peeled and then eaten raw or boiled. The roots are harvested in the spring and are then roasted before being eaten. The roasted root can be dried, ground into a flour and then stored for later use. The raw root should not be eaten since they contain toxic alkaloids and will cause a drunken-like state if eaten in excess, but the cooked root is safe to eat. Seedpods - cooked.

Description of the plant:


70 cm
(2 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Roadsides and open banks. Shingle banks in rivers in Scotland.

Propagation of Blue Lupine:

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 outdoors in situ in the middle of spring. It might be necessary to protect this sowing from mice. Division in early March. Difficult. Basal cuttings in April. 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 the herb:

Roadsides and open banks. Shingle banks in rivers in Scotland.

Medicinal use of Blue Lupine:

None known

Known hazards of Lupinus nootkatensis:

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.