Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Wildflower Wednesday - Lupinus sericatus

I'd like to share a fun and lovely wildflower from California with you today for Wildflower Wednesday, Lupinus sericatus. In 2016, I was fortunate to receive a young plant grown by my friend Evan Bean, the Practical Plant Geek, and it has continued to brighten the Northwest Territory of our garden since then.

Lupinus sericatus is a species of lupine known by the common name Cobb Mountain lupine. This lupine isn't native to the Pacific Northwest, but at least it's on the same coast and tolerates my similar garden conditions. According to Calscape (California Native Plant Society), this plant is endemic to the North Coast Ranges of California north of the San Francisco Bay Area, where it grows in the forest, woodlands, and chaparral of the slopes and canyons. It easily colonizes disturbed habitat as well.

Calscape describes Lupinus sericatus as a perennial herb growing up to half a meter tall. Luckily for me, it tolerates a variety of soils as long as adequate drainage is provided. This pretty native is actually rare; in its native habitat, it is threatened by geothermal development, habitat alteration, logging, road maintenance, road widening and herbicides.

I chose this native for today because, although it's not blooming right now, it has great winter interest. The leaves of the Cobb Mountain lupine are the loveliest downy-silver color, even through the winter months; I took the picture below just two days ago. And in summer sunshine, the leaves practically light up.

Similarly to Alchemilla mollis, our winter rains bead up on the wet leaves like little round jewels. At Annie's Annuals, they suggest cutting back the plant in fall to keep it looking good, but I can't bring myself to do away with those silvery leaves.

Growing information for Lupinus sericatus
Common Name: Cobb Mountain lupine
Family: Fabaceae
Type: perennial herb
Native Range:
North Coast Ranges of California north of the San Francisco Bay Area, in forest, woodlands, and chaparral of the slopes and canyons
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 20"
Spread: 36"
Bloom Time: Spring, March through June (in my garden it usually blooms in May.)
Bloom Description: Violet-purple spikes
Sun: Full sun
Water: Low; drought tolerant
Soil: A variety, as long as adequate drainage is provided

Maintenance: Low, looks best if cut back in fall
Leaf: Silvery-gray pinwheel
12" raceme of several whorls of purple flowers
Uses: Deer resistant, bird gardens, bee gardens, attracts hummingbirds
Tolerates: a variety of soils if drainage is adequate
Propagation by seed: Fresh seeds need no treatment. Stored seeds need scarification or hot water.

I'm joining in (for the first time!) with Gail Eichelberger of Clay and Limestone, where she hosts Wildflower Wednesday on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Click over there to see what wildflowers others are sharing this month!


  1. I'm with you, those silvery leaves dotted with water drops are too pretty to cut back. Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a gorgeous plant! The coloring on the blooms in spectacular! It's always a bonus when plants provide more than one season of interest.

  3. What a pretty plant, leaves and all! :) I love lupines but, living in Maine, have never seen your species.

  4. That's a wonderful Lupine! And yes, too lovely to cut back - especially in such a mild winter as this one. I love how the flower fades from purple to white, but the leaves are super spesh. Wish I had more sun...

  5. So glad you highlighted this great plant. Thank you Evan for the seedlings! Mine, in full sun and really well-drained soil (baking hot...let's be honest) is also doing well. I can't cut mine back either, Jane. Don't have the heart for it!

  6. Embarrassingly I am not growing this , even though I am right here in it's range. I love all lupines and have managed horti-cide on many types. I need to give this one a go .

  7. What interesting leaves! Thanks for introducing me to this plant.

  8. Wonderful. Silver foliage is my special obsession. Well, one of them! It looks good with those rocks, too.

  9. Very beautiful flower. Thanks for sharing information.

  10. So often silver leaves are paired with nasty mustardy yellow flowers.
    This silver and purple is a happy pairing.

  11. If you want a similar kind of silvery lupin with purple flowers along with an intoxicating fragrance, check out Lupinus excubitus.


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