Wildflowers of Toronto's High Park​​

Lupine, wild blue  
​Lupinus perennis

​High Park is noted for its remnant populations of wild blue lupines, once common in the black oak savanahs of southern Ontario.  It is hoped that restoration of this plant will help to bring back the Karner Blue butterfly (last seen in the park in 1926 and exterpated from Ontario), whose caterpillar feeds exclusively on wild blue lupines. In recent years, prescribed burns in the park have successfully increased the size of the plants and number of seeds produced.

​Family: Pea
Native to Ontario

Blooms: May to June
Habitat: dry sandy open savannahs
​Grows in colonies
Height: up to160 cm

​Flowers: 16 mm, arranged in a dense vertical cluster. Normally blue/purple but occasionally white/pink.

​Pollinated by honey bees and other insects. 

Seed pods explode, ejecting seeds up to a metre away.  Germination may occur in the same summer or be delayed for up to 3 years.  Does not bloom until the 2nd year after germination.

The genus name ​​lupinis meaning "wolf" arose because it was once believed the plant depleted (wolfed) the mineral content of the soil. In fact it enhances the fertility of the soil by fixing atmospheric nitrogen.

The palmated leaves turn to face the sun throughout the day, giving rise to its nickname "Sundial Lupine."

The fruit is a hairy pod, 3-5 cm.