Lupinus perennis is a well-known species, indigenous to many parts of New England, found, frequently, in large masses, from a yard to two rods in circumference, occupying the very poorest sandy or gravelly arid soil; frequently in company with the pretty Silene Pennsylvania, or Wild Pink, and more commonly with Viola pedata, or Bird's-foot Violet, all of which are in bloom about the first of June. It is very difficult*, or even impossible, to transplant, with success, this fine perennial. The only sure way to propagate it is by seed, which should be gathered before it is entirely ripe, as it is scattered, as soon as mature, by the sudden bursting of the pod, by which the seed is thrown to a considerable distance. Nor will it succeed on rich ground; but whenever the seeds are to be sown, the soil should, in the first place, be removed, or a greater part of it, from a circle whose diameter is three or four feet, and the hole be filled up with a poor, gravelly or sandy soil, and the seed sown in the centre.
The flowers are found, in the wild state, of various colors and shades, from pure white (which is rare) through all the shades of light to dark-blue, inclining to purple; the margin of the flowers is frequently copper color, sometimes inclining to red. One variety has flowers of a dull pink. Stem erect, hairy. The digitate leaves are composed of about eight or ten leaflets, which are lanceolate, wedge-shaped, arranged like rays around the end of the petiole; hairy and pale underneath.
Many beautiful Lupins have, within a few years, been added to the list of herbaceous plants, chiefly through the exertions of Mr. Douglas, in his excursions in North and South America, most of which were found on the North-west coast, from California to the Columbia river, which part of the world seems to be the central position, or head quarters, of this genus of plants, more being found there than in all the world besides.
Lupinus polyphyllus, - Many-leaved Lupin, - is a splendid plant, from the north-west coast of North America. The following account, which I gave of it fifteen years ago, is as good as new : "I received seed of this fine Lupin, a few years since, only one of which vegetated. It produced radical leaves, only, the first year, which were multifoliated, and borne on long petioles. The second year, it was transplanted, with much care, into rich soil, having been exposed, through the winter, to all the rigors of the season, without protection. In the month of May the flower-stalks began to be developed, and produced, in June, spikes of flowers, which were two feet in length, and from three to four feet in height from the ground. The flowers are disposed in long terminal clusters, of a beautiful azure blue, with a reddish border, forming a kind of whorls, very near each other, round the stem. The leaves are composed of from twelve to fifteen green, lanceolate leaflets, hairy on the under side. The flowers resemble those of blue Sophora, (Baptisa australis,) but far more elegant. The third year it flowered abundantly, throwing up numerous flower-stems, so luxurious that many were broken by the wind before they were secured by sticks. The third year the roots should be divided, as they become large in rich ground; the central part first decays, and finally the whole root perishes, unless this operation is performed. There is also a white variety."
There is also a number of other species, among which are L. grandiflora, and other fine sorts. They are best propagated by seeds; but, with care, some of the sorts may be increased by divisions of the roots.