Lupinus chamissonis Eschsch.

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Julian Sutton (2023)

Recommended citation
Sutton, J. (2023), 'Lupinus chamissonis' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2024-06-18.

Shrub 0.5–2 m, hairy, silvery with dense, appressed hairs. Stems erect. Leaves cauline; leaflets 5–9, 1–2.5 cm long; petioles 1–3.5 cm; stipules 8–10 mm. Inflorescence 5–20 cm, flowers more or less in whorls. Flowers 8–16 mm; calyx upper lip 5–7 mm, deeply lobed; lower lip 7–9 mm; petals pale violet to blue, with yellow spot on standards. Fruit 2.5–3.5 cm, hairy. (Sholars & Riggins 2022).

Distribution  United States California

Habitat Coastal dunes and beaches.

USDA Hardiness Zone 8b-9

RHS Hardiness Rating H4

Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)

Sometimes seen in European and Pacific Coast American gardens, this fast-growing, short-lived shrub is grown for its fine silvery foliage, and violet, yellow-blotched flowers in early summer. Its inflorescences are usually shorter than those of the familiar yellow-flowered L. arboreus, and it seems less hardy. Probably never long-lived, rich living, low winter light levels and humid, stagnant air are likely to be as much a threat as is cold. A warm, sunny site, perhaps against a wall, on poor, well-drained soil suits it best.

Like L. arboreus, this is a coastal plant found along much of the length of California, but less widely naturalized elsewhere. It seems to have an important role in the development of dune scrub communities (Holton & Johnson 1979; Cushman, Waller & Hoak 2010).

Eschscholtz’s (1823) name commemorates his colleague, the German poet and naturalist Adelbert von Chamisso. The pair visited California in 1816 on the exploratory voyage of the Russian ship Rurik (Mornin 1999). Whether seed was brought back to Europe is unclear, although Bean (1981) suggests that David Douglas collected it sometime in the 1820s, and it was clearly circulating in British gardens and nurseries in the early 20th century (Prain 1916). It seems never to have been common in Europe, but is still sometimes offered by nurseries and in the more interesting seed catalogues, as it is in the Pacific States. Seed is surely the best way to establish it, taking care to save more for the next generation of plants.