Mammoth lupine

(Question)

Hi
I have a clump of lupines and one of the stalks is huge – Stem is 3″ wide (like a very think lasagna noodle) with more than 14 leaf stems coming off this main stem. The Flower head is over 13 ” high and about 4″ wide. Is this unique or common? Any info would be appreciated.
Loving the mystery and magic of my garden!
Thanks for your help.

(Answer)

There are many varieties of lupines. You may have a clump of big-leaf lupines (Lupinus polyphyllus), a native perennial that can grow as high as 8 feet tall. This giant has massive spikes of blue, purple, pink or magenta flowers. A member of the pea (legume) family, lupines thrive in nutrient-poor soils where few other plants survive.

The thin lasagna like stem with the wide flower heads visible on the attached photos is called fasciation. Fasciated stems are produced due to abnormal activity in the growing tip of the plant. Fasciation is unpredictable and is usually limited to a single stem. It may be caused by:

  • Random genetic mutation or disruption
  • The bacterium Rhodococcus fascians
  • Viral infection
  • Damage to the plants by frost, animals (including insects), chemical or mechanical injury.

For more information on this unusual phenomenon see:

http://apps.rhs.org.uk/advicesearch//Profile.aspx?pid=525