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The wonderful world of micro-plants: Lupinus nanus Sky Lupine

As spring gets underway and the days warm up, now is the perfect time to admire the little things in life. The recent rains have helped to produce a wonderful display of wildflowers. In the wild areas around Sacramento, such as the American River Parkway, is the host of some of the most amazingly beautiful wildflowers you may happen across. Have a look at this outstanding beauty.

California has some remarkable wildflowers. This is a spot light on Lupinus nanus or Sky lupine.
David Stillwell
Sky Lupine at Table Mountain
David Stillwell

Lupinus nanus Sky Lupine

Lupinus nanus is commonly known as Sky lupine, and it is a California native wildflower. This plant is in the family: Fabaceae, which is the legume or pea family. This is a striking plant that when in bloom produces rich raceme of flowers in deep purple or mixed purple and white. Some species of lupine produce yellow flower. Lupinus nanus blooms March through May, though it sometimes will bloom as early as February if the weather is nice. The plant produces a legume as a fruit that resembles a pea pod. This plant is considered to be highly toxic by the California Poison Control System (1.)

Habitat: This is a plant that grows in a variety of habitats that range from coastal scrub to valley grassland. It tolerates a wide range of temperatures from summer highs of 98 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter lows to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Sky lupine is often found in uplands along slopes and mountains under 1630 meters in elevation.

Bio: Sky lupine is important to native bees, honey bees, and bumble bees. Butterflies are also known to use Sky lupine as a nectar source.

Viewing: Sky lupine is common, but there are places where it is stunning to view. One such place is North Table Mountain in Oroville, California. North Table Mountain is the remains of a basalt lava flow that filled up a valley between two mountains. Those mountains have long since eroded away leaving behind a table top formation of lava. This unique environment makes the place a beautiful spot to view native plants such as Sky lupine. If you head to North Table Mountain, pack a lunch, wear boots and pants. The rocky terrain is favored by snakes such as rattlesnakes. A light jacket can also be handy as the area can be breezy.



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