© Charlotte Staub Thomas

Silky Lupine

Lupinus sericeus

THE WESTERN MOUNTAINS of North America are home to many species of lupine. Lewis encountered at least four. He wrote about one during the winter of 1805-06 on the Pacific coast and collected three others while in the mountains on the trip home. On June 5, 1806, while at Camp Chopunnish in present-day Idaho, Lewis made note of a considerable number of plants that he thought were “common to our country,” including “several of the pea blume flowering plants.” This is thought to be a reference to the silky lupine, which is not found in the eastern part of the continent; it was unknown to western science. The flower of silky lupine is of a pale lavender hue and is typical of the pea family, with the petals forming distinctly different upper and lower lips.

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