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Big-leaf lupine

Big-leaf lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus)

Herbaceous perennial that is 2-4’ tall. Big-leaf lupine is native to the Western United States and Cananda, but not Wisconsin. Commonly grown in cultivation and used to create hybrids in the plant trade.


Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: Russel lupine, giant lupine, garden lupine, Washington lupine

Ecological threat:

  • Hybridizes with sundial lupine (L. perennis) with the resulting plants being unsuitable hosts for the Karner Blue Butterfly larvae.

Classification in Wisconsin: Not regulated.


Leaves: Alternate and palmate. Lower leaves have 12-18 leaflets that are hairy on the underside and have long petioles.

Flowers: Blue-violet, pink, or white, pea-like flowers are borne on 6-18” long racemes. Blooms during midsummer and flowers open from the bottom.

Fruits & seeds: Oblong, flattened seedpods that are hairy and contain 3-9 seeds per pod.

Roots: Taproot.

Similar species: Native or sundial lupine (L. perennis) has 7-11 leaflets and has a raceme that is less dense. The flowers are only blue-violet in color.


Known county distribution of big-leaf lupine
Counties in WI where big-leaf lupine has been reported (as of July 2011). Both vouchered and unvouchered reports included.

Do you have big-leaf lupine in your county but it isn't shaded on the map? Send us a report.


Mechanical: Mow during flowering stage or cut root with shovel 1-2” below soil. Monitor for new growth for several seasons.

Chemical: For larger infestations, foliar spray with clopyralid before seed set.


Sources for content:

  • Czarapata, Elizabeth; Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest: an illustrated guide to their identification and control. University of Wisconsin Press. 2005. Pg. 138
  • Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission: Bigleaf Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus ssp. polyphyllus) [exit DNR]. Last updated January 2006.
  • Cullina, William. 2000. The New England Wild Flower Society guide to growing and propogating wildflowers of the United States and Canada; pg 140-141. The New England Wild Flower Society.

Links for More Information

Last revised: Monday December 11 2017