Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Blue Sandhill Lupine - Lupinus diffusus   Nuttall
Members of Fabaceae:
Members of Lupinus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Fabales » Family Fabaceae
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AuthorNuttall
DistributionNearly throughout the southwestern third of the Coastal Plain, especially the Sandhills region, and ranging north only to Duplin, Harnett, Moore, and Montgomery counties.

This is a Southern Coastal Plain species, ranging from NC south to southern FL and MS.
AbundanceCommon in the Sandhills region, but less numerous eastward. Can be fairly common to locally common in southern coastal counties, but mainly infrequent to locally fairly common in the central portions of the range; yet to be recorded from Robeson County.
HabitatThis species strongly favors sandy soil of Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) sandhills, particular in sites that are frequently burned with prescribed fires. The species also occurs in disturbed sandy places, such as roadsides and roadbanks that pass through pine/scrub oak sandhill habitats.
PhenologyBlooms from March to May, and fruits from June to July.
IdentificationThis is an easily identified plant in most of its NC range, though L. villosus can look similar when not in bloom. L. diffusus has several "stems" that grow from a single base, producing an abundance of large, very hairy "basal" evergreen leaves at ground level. These leaves are elliptic, thick, and quite glaucous (pale green), about 4 inches long and about 1.5 inches wide, most of them angled upwards. The flower stalks grow from the base and reach about 10-12 inches high, covered in fairly large pale blue flowers, each about 1/2-inch long. The rare L. villosus has beautiful flower clusters of flesh-pink to flesh-purple flowers, a color very seldom seen among NC flowers. As L. diffusus bloom in spring when much of the sandhills are still in "late winter", the light blue spires of the flowers can be seen at long distances; even the pale green clumps of leaves are visible from a distance, even without flowers. While cruising through much of the Sandhills, especially the Sandhills Game Land, it is often easy to spot this plant in the spring season.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Sky-blue Lupine, Sandhill Lupine, Oak Ridge Lupine, Diffuse Lupine. Though there are a number of common names for the species, none has even near-universal usage.
State RankS3S4 [S4]
Global RankG5
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Scott HartleyWeymouth Woods - Sandhills Nature Preserve MoorePhoto_natural
Chris HelmsCarolina Beach State Park New HanoverPhoto_natural
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