The photo above shows prairie lupine as seen along Girds Creek Road at the eastern base of Sutton Mountain in central Oregon.........April 8, 2007. As seen above, it has a habit of low growth of foliage with several to many elongated racemes extending above the foliage.
Prairie lupine is a small, attractive perennial lupine of diverse form and habitats in the Pacific Northwest. It ranges from matted forms to erect plants ranging from 10-35 cm high. The stems are fairly short and often shorter than the tallest leaves. If the stems extend beyond the leaves, then the stem is often prostrate or spreading. The leaves are mostly basal with the petiole 2-5 times longer than the blades. The palmately compound leaves have 5-9 oblanceolate leaflets. The individual leaflets range from 1-4 cm long and are noticeably hairy on both surfaces.
The inflorescence is a tight raceme of crowded flowers. the raceme ranges from 4-15 cm in length. individual flowers are 8-13 mm long and mostly of a bluish color with a lighter banner. The banner is well reflexed from the keel and is not haired on its surfaces. The upper lip of the calyx is double-toothed. The hairy pods range from 10-20 mm long with 2-4 seeds.
Variety aridus: Racemes partially concealed by the longer leaves. Flowers 9-11 mm long. Found from south-central Washington to norhtern California (entirely east of the Cascades) and east to west-central Idaho and Nevada.
Variety cusickii: Racemes mostly concealed by the leaves. Wing petals are broader than 4 mm and usually over 8 mm long. The banner is usually wider than 3/5 of its length. Found from the Blue Mts. of northeastern Oregon and in Okanogan County in Washington.
Variety lepidus: Racemes are well extend above the longest leaves. Flowers 11-13 mm long. Found in the lowlands west of the Cascades from southern British Columbia to northwestern Oregon.
Variety lobbii: Racemes are less than 5 cm long and extend beyond the tallest leaves. Leaflets usually less than 15 mm long. Plants prostrate and matted. Subalpine plants of the Cascade and Olympic Mts. and also found east to western Idaho and Nevada.
Variety utahensis: Racemes mostly concealed by the longer leaves. Wing petals slender, usually less than 3 mm wide and from 7-8 mm long. The banner is usually less than 3/5 as wide as it is long. Plants found from central Oregon through central Idaho and southeastern Oregon to western Montana and Wyoming and hence south to Colorado and Utah.
Ponderosa pine forest and sagebrush desert from the foothills into the lower mountains.
Prairie lupine (variety aridus) is found east of the Cascade Mountains from south-central Washington south to northern California, eastward to west-central Idaho.