Lupins are a beautiful flower that you will find in many British gardens. Lupins are a staple of British cottage gardens, famed for both their height and colour. Originally hailing from the Mediterranean they are a perennial that will greet you with a gorgeous display year after year. They produce a large flowering spike that is full of colour and each plant can have lots of these spikes leading to a fabulous display.
They will begin to flower around may and can last well into June and like being in full sun. The flowers do go to seed quite quickly but your lupin will continue to produce more and more new spikes. To get the best out of these spikes though it is essential to deadhead the old spikes to give the new ones a chance to flourish. Also cutting your lupins back in autumn can help them the following spring.
Are Lupins Poisonous?
This depends on the variety, some are and can cause digestive discomfort to humans if eaten. They are also dangerous to animals and can cause severe reactions in animals sometimes even death. Do not panic though and go digging up your lupins immediately, very large quantities would have to be consumed in a short time period to cause more serious effects.
Why are Lupins Poisonous?
They contain a high concentration of a toxic alkaloid called ‘lupanine’. When consumed in high quantities this can cause poisoning in humans and animals.
The toxins can be removed by a process of soaking and boiling. This is the process done to the lupin seeds you will see in many health shops bought for human consumption.
There is a little toxicity in lupin leaves but the vast majority is in the seeds. Keep lupin seeds well away from pets and young children! One problem with lupin seeds is that the pods look very similar to pea and bean pods.
While some Lupins are toxic other varieties have been bred specifically for human consumption and are a recent health craze. The Dieta Lupin was bred in the UK, especially for human use and is completely non-bitter, even without any special preparation.