It's lupine time at Jerry Apps' farm in Waushara County

Jerry Apps

The lupines are open at Roshara. When I was a kid, I didn’t know about lupines, didn’t know If I’d ever seen one as they didn’t grow on the home farm. 

The lupines are open at Roshara.

When we bought Roshara in 1966, I discovered this patch of beautiful, lavender-purple flowers growing on the south side of the property. I checked them out in my flower-identification book and learned that they were lupines and that they were in the pea family. Scientific name: Lupinus perennis L.

I was curious about their name and learned that it refers to Lupus, which refers to the Latin name for wolf. At one time it was believed that the lupines robbed the soil of its nutrients. The opposite is true. Lupines are long-lived nitrogen-fixing plants. They add to the soil’s nutrients.

Our sandy, acidic soils are ideal for this beautiful, native plant, which has a long tap root and allows it to go deep for moisture and survive during dry spells. Today, after removing brush and other shade-producing plants over the years, the patch of lupines has grown to a couple acres in size—quite a sight to see when they are all in bloom.

Beyond their beauty and soil enhancing properties, the wild lupines are host plants for the endangered Karner blue butterfly. We have Karner blues. Sometimes we may see a half-dozen or so of them flitting about the lupines—a double treat for any nature lover.

The Old Timer Says: Nature offers so much to enjoy—early June is lupine time.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to