Denizen of the sand country, the blue spires of lupine stand erect in the blazing spring sunshine.
Lupinus peiennis L.
May - June. Sands, dune country.
Sand country plants are especially fitted to bloom in the limited haunts which they prefer. They must be able to subsist on moisture which drains in deeply when it comes; at other times they live in a dry, desert-like habitat. A sand plant must have a deep root to go down to any water far below the surface, and must have leaves which are able to survive the baking heat and intense light of summer. Ornamental and interesting plants grow in the sand country, there where old sand dunes lie as sand fields along the river.
Blue lupine is the only one of its kind in Illinois: on the other side of the Mississippi, westward through the plains and peaks to the Pacific, other lupines are abundant. The Texas blue-bonnet is a lupine: there are bright lupines with California, poppies in vacant Lots in Los Angeles. But from Maine to Minnesota and south to the Gulf, always in that favorite sandy soil, the wild lupine grows and blooms and makes pods of small peas for the horned larks and hob-whites to eat. In the time of the Indians who camped along the rivers, the Indian women may have gathered the little lupine peas; they were boiled or roasted and eaten in a land where every edible seed counted in keeping hunger at hay.
Lupine flowers are the form known as pea-shaped - like a small sweet pea, lavender-blue, on short, hairy stems arranged circularly around the upright stalk. The leaves are palmately compound, arranged like fingers of a hand, and when the sun is too hot, they fold themselves in half and droop on their mobile pedicels.