The photo above shows a close-up of the raceme and upper stem leaves of spurred lupine as seen at the crest of the Columbia Hills about one mile east of Stacker Butte in the Columbia River Gorge.........June 8, 2008.
Spurred lupine is an attractive perennial wildflower suitable for mountain or arid climates. Its numerous stems are spreading to erect and are simple to sparingly branched, ranging from 20-80 cm high. The herbage consists of fine, appressed hairs which all point in one direction and which give the stems and leaves greenish-gray to silver-gray appearance. The palmately compound leaves are primarily found on the stems. The petioles of the lower leaves range from 2-4 times longer than the leaf blades, while the upper petioles are roughly half as long as the blades. The blades consist of 7-11 narrowly oblong-oblanceolate to oblong leaflets with the tips ranging from pointed to occasionally obtuse or rounded. The leaflets range from 3-5 cm long. The herbage of the leaves is various ranging from pubescent on both surfaces to glabrous above and silvery-haired below.
The racemes are 7-20 cm long and range from loosely flowered to sometimes fairly crowded. The flowers range from 9-14 mm long with flower stems from 3-7 mm long. The calyx has a noticeable sac or spur just above its attachment point to the flower stem. The spur ranges from 1-3 mm long. The upper lobe of the calyx is cleft at its tip and is usually less than 1/3 the length of the corolla wings. The banner is fairly pubescent on its back to above the center. The wings are minutely hairy on the upper side, just below the banner. The margin of the keel is fringed by minute hairs most of its length. The flowers vary from blue, pink, violet, rose and purple to cream or white. The pods are fairly covered with silky hairs and range from 2-3.5 cm long.Similar species:
Spurred lupine is almost indistinguishable from Kellogg's spurred lupine (Lupinus caudatus). Both are frequently found together and great care must be taken to not misidentify them. Spurred lupine generally differs from the latter in having a shorter upper calyx lobe (less than 1/2 the length of the wings of the corolla) and by having minute hairs (You need a hand lens to see them!) on the upper edge of the wings, just below the banner.
East of the Cascade Mts, spurred lupine may commonly be found in sagebrush or ponderosa pine habitats. In the Cascades, it may be found in coniferous forests including Douglas fir.
Spurred lupine is primarily found east of the Cascade Mts. from Washington east to Idaho and Montana, and south to California, Utah and Nevada. Variety laxiflorus is found in the western portion of the range of the species.
In the Columbia River Gorge it may be found between the elevations of 100'-4700' from near Mt. Hamilton east to near Biggs, and perhaps beyond.
Spurred lupine blooming at Catherine Creek, Columbia River Gorge..........May 2, 2014.
-Spurred lupine blooming on public land along the Bickleton Highway west of Rock Creek, Klickitat County, WA.........May 17, 2014.