The Sonoran Desert Florilegium

plants of the florilegium

Lupinus arizonicus
Arizona lupine

FAMILY:  Fabaceae — Legume family

ETYMOLOGY:  The genus Lupinus takes its name from the Latin 'lupinus', which means wolf-like or ravenous. There is no clear connection between this description and these plants. Possibly the name refers to the toxicity of the seeds of some lupines. It may be because lupines frquently grow in poor soil where other plants cannot, and it was assumed that lupines stole the nutrients from the soil and prevented other plants from taking hold. Or perhaps the fact that some lupines can run rampant over the landscape gave them a reputation as a ravenous plant.

The specific epithet 'arizonicus' is a Latin word meaning 'of or from Arizona'.

DESCRIPTION:  Arizona lupine is one of several species of lupine found in the Sonoran Desert Region. It blooms along roadsides and in sandy washes below elevations of 4,500' from January through May.

The pinkish purple flowers grow in long clusters at the ends of stems that can be up to two feet in height. On the banner petal, the largest and uppermost flower petal, is a yellow spot that serves as a nectar guide for pollinating bees.

The bright green palm-shaped compound leaves close at night but open in the morning to face the sun and track it throughout the day. The O'odham name for lupine means "sun hand", and the Seri name means "sun- watcher".