CPC Plant Profile: Kincaid's Lupine
Search / Plant Profile / Lupinus oreganus var. kincaidii
Plant Profile

Kincaid's Lupine (Lupinus oreganus var. kincaidii)

Lupinus sulphureus var. kincaidii (plant in flower) Photo Credit: Richard Helliwell
  • Global Rank: T2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Threatened
  • Family: Fabaceae
  • State: BC, OR, WA

Kincaids lupine, like many other species, is suffering from rapid decline in suitable habitat. Conversion of Willamette and Douglas Valley grasslands to agricultural lands has reduced the lupine to 57 sites, most of which are small and isolated. Fenders blue butterfly, and endangered butterfly endemic to the Willamette Valley, is heavily reliant on Kincaids lupine. The importance of the lupine for the survival of the butterfly has made the plant an important conservation target. Kincaids lupine has purple to white flowers that rapidly fade to brown. The plant flowers from April through June and is pollinated by insects. It is a low-growing plant that has been found to live as long as 25 years. While the lupine lacks vegetative propagules, distant flowering stalks are often connected by underground stems. Research suggests that this underground connection can lead to inbreeding when plants only receive pollen from within the same colony. Invasive plants can cause problems for Kincaids lupine. The plant is intolerant of prolonged shade, and can easily be shaded out by these taller plants. Controlled burning and mowing of prairie plots are used to remove invasive species and restore lupine habitats. These techniques have been found to increase lupine cover in addition to the number of Fenders blue butterfly eggs found in the habitat.

Conservation Actions:
Participating Institutions
Taxon Lupinus oreganus var. kincaidii
Authority C.P. Sm.
Family Fabaceae
CPC Number 9568
ITIS 529000
Common Names Fraser | Kincaid's Lupine
Associated Scientific Names Lupinus sulphureus ssp. kincaidii | Lupinus oreganus var. kincaidii | Lupinus sulphureus var. kincaidii
Distribution Regional endemic, from Douglas Co, OR, north to Lewis Co., WA.
State Rank
State State Rank
British Columbia SX
Oregon S2
Washington S1

· Found at low elevations in the Willamette and Umpqua Valley, OR and Lewis County, WA (USFWS).· Found in open prairies and oak woodlands on mesic to slightly xeric soils (WHNP and BLM 1999).· The lupine is unable to survive in prolonged shade (Wilson et al. 2003).· At the southern limit of its range, Kincaids lupine occurs adjacent to serpentine outcrops (OFW 2007).

Ecological Relationships

Lupinus sulphureus ssp. kincaidii is a perennial, low-growing plant that produces unbranched flowering stems up to 100 cm tall. The flowers range from light bluish purple to yellow. Leaves 10 m or more apart can be connected by belowground stems. The lupine is quite remarkably long-lived; one excavated individual had 25 annual growth rates rings in its crown (Wilson et al. 2003).Kincaids lupine flowers from April through June (WHNP and BLM 1999). The flowers of Kincaids lupine have a pump arrangement for cross-pollination. A string of pollen is pushed through the tip of the keel by the stigma when the pistil comes under pressure during an insect visit (Kaye 1999). Pollination of the flower is mainly by small bees (Wilson et al. 2003).Kincaids lupine is the main food source for the larval stage of Fenders blue butterfly (Icaricia icarioides fender Macy) an endangered butterfly species endemic to Oregon. Adult butterflies lay their eggs on host plants in May and June. The eggs are oviposited on the undersides of the lupine leaves (Kaye and Thorpe 2006). The caterpillars feed and develop on the plants until the following spring when they transform into adult butterflies (USFWS 1998). Because the lupine can be very long-lived, it provides long-term stability for butterfly populations, allowing them to exist in single locations for long periods of time (Schultz et al. 2003).Insect herbivory can affect the reproduction success of Kincaids lupine. Predation can destroy flowers and prevent the development of fruits. Some insects, such as the silvery blue butterfly, also feed on the fruits, causing seed mortality (Wilson et al. 2003). Larvae of the Fenders blue butterfly often feed on the young leaves and apical meristems of the lupine, resulting in clusters of damaged leaves and stems (Kaye and Thorpe 2006).


Be the first to post an update!

Be the first to post an update!

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source

Donate to CPC to Save this Species

Fall fundraising drive has begun! We're looking for 2,500 people to protect our planet. With you by our side, we will build a future where people live in harmony with nature. Come help and become a CPC donor today.

Donate Today