The wild lupine is one of May’s most stunning wildflowers. Unlike most of the rare flowers I seek out in the spring, the lupine doesn’t grow in the woods. It grows in open sunny areas, such as meadows and railroad right-of-ways. It used to flourish in prairies where fires periodically burned away competing plants and shady canopies. The lupine needs dry sandy soil. It likes the sort of habitat associated with Midwestern pine barrens and oak savannahs.
The lupine is the nurse plant for the Karner blue butterfly, which is an endangered species. The lupine is the only plant that the larvae of the butterfly will eat. Unfortunately, the plant is less abundant than it once was. To see this small stand of lupines in Michigan today was a marvelous treat.