Blue Sky Lupine
A tall observer
Rises from the sandy soil
Beautiful in blue
This week’s wildflower is one of the most striking of Florida’s plant inventory. The Blue Sky Lupine, Lupinus diffusus, of the Fabaceae (bean) family is a perennial evergreen herbaceous plant. Blue Sky has a single erect stem that can reach about two feet in height. Single elliptic leaves are arranged in alternate order on the stem. Leaves are heavily covered in silky hairs. Dense leaves take up the lower half of the plant.
The upper half is a terminal spike that supports dozens of tiny blue colored flowers. Flower structure has the typical bean family pea shaped structure. A banner with two fused petals on top with two winged petals below that surround a keel of two smaller fused petals. Ten male stamens are fused in to one and emerge from a slight tunnel directly below the banner. Two white stripes are found at the base of the banner to attract flying pollinators. This is Sky Blues’ corolla or bloom. Individual plants often grow in clusters providing an attractive blue hue to see. The fruit is a small pod.
Sky Blue is found through the State in sandy well-drained soils. It is very particular, however, about where it will grow no matter how much sand. Seeds are difficult to propagate. Unfortunately, Blue Sky is also poisonous.
The specimen in the picture was found in a small population in the Koreshan State Park. The population is being closely monitored by members of the Native Plant Society.