Wednesday's Wildflower: Scrub Lupine

McFarlin’s Lupine/Scrub Lupine, Lupinus westianus var. aridorum / Lupinus aridorium
Submitted by Tom Palmer, Hernando Chapter

Scrub Lupine, photo by Tom Palmer

This pink-flowered endemic wildflower blooms in spring in a decreasing number of locations on the Winter Haven and Mt. Dora ridges in Polk and  Orange counties.  It is a federally listed endangered species, and unlike many scrub species, it is  unknown within the Lake Wales Ridge. 

Although this plant was first proposed to be considered a separate species by James Brigham McFarlin in the 1930s, it was not formally described until 1982 by John Beckner. It was later reclassified as a variety of Lupinus westianus by Duane Isley, but a current genetic evaluation of Florida lupines reportedly may result in changes in the nomenclature that may restore it to full species status.

Scrub lupines are easily identified by pink blossoms as well as the absence of stipules, which will L. diffusus, a more common Central Florida species, when the plants are not blooming.
help to distinguish it from

Young Scrub Lupine Seedlings at Lake Blue Scrub
photo by  Donna Bollenbach
Although Scrub Lupine was once found in scores of locations, the number of sites where it is still found has declined due to habitat degradation and development. The only protected sites where this lupine is found today are on a federal preserve that is not open to the public near Lake McLeod in Eagle Lake in Polk County and Bill Frederick Park, a county park in Orange County.

Seedlings that were propagated at Bok Tower’s Rare Plant Conservation Program have been brought to Lake Blue Scrub and Mackay Gardens and Lakeside Park in Polk County and to Wekiva Springs State Park and Tibet-Butler Preserve in Orange County, but whether these plantings will result in sustainable populations is still undetermined. 

Tom Palmer, a Lakeland Ledger reporter since 1980, retired in 2016. He has been referred to "as a walking encyclopedia of everything environmental." Palmer truly loves the outdoors and often spends weekends birding, searching for the exotic or cleaning trash from lakefronts and other areas. We are thankful to have Tom as a member of the Hernando Chapter of FNPS. 

Other Links: 
Hawthorn Hill Wildflowers Blog: Scrub Lupine


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