Large-leaf Lupine

Lupinus polyphyllus
Other names: Known as garden lupine in cultivation.  Big-leaf or large-leaf lupine, Blue-pod lupine, Meadow lupine, Bog lupine
Family: Fabaceae (Legume Family)
Range:  Large-leaf lupine is native to western North America from southern Alaska and British Columbia east to Quebec, and western Wyoming, and south to Utah and California.
Native: Introduced
Native Habitat: Stream banks, meadows and other moist or wet places.
Bloom Time: May


At a certain point of the year, it seems like the side of every road in Maine, all the way up to the interstates, is covered in lupine.   It’s a nice sign of Spring – later than the bulbs, but still earlier than a lot of other flowers.   It’s an iconic New England sight – if you google Maine lupine – you’ll come up with entry upon entry from travelogues and magazines.

Oddly, they can be hard to take photos of, because in this area, they’re mainly along the highway.    I have to get out of town to see them where I can stop and enjoy them.     The pictures here are from much further Downeast, but you don’t have to go that far to find lupine.    Just plan to get off the highway somewhere north of Portland, and you’ll likely find a patch somewhere.

Lupinus perennis is the native species to this area, but it is locally extinct in Maine.   (It’s very similar to the roadside lupine we see today, but only comes in blue.)

L. polyphllus is considered invasive, but it’s argued among various parties if it’s really a problem invasive species (at least here in Maine.   It’s apparently a big problem in New Zealand).

This is the species that has been hybridized for cultivation, so you can see other colors available for gardens.    It tends to come in purple/blue, white and pink on the roadside.    I’ve had this in my garden a couple times.    The first time, it was killed by aphids.    The second, by a very cold winter.

Locations in Photos:
Franklin, Maine, at the side of the road

Highland Center, Crawford Notch, NH
Along Route 302, NH


Edited 2/11/18 to add new photos taken since original published data, and update tags.


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