White Lupin

Lupinus albus

Synonyms - Lupinus termis.

Family: - Fabaceae.


Lupinus is from the Latin word for wolf and applied because they prey on the soil and inhabit poor soil types.

Albus means white.

White Lupin - because they have white seed and white flowers.


White Lupin is an erect much branched annual herb or shrub with 5-9 finger-like leaflets, 20-60 mm long by 12-20 mm wide, radiating from a central point.

The white, pea type flowers that are often tinged with blue are arranged alternately or in whorls up the tall flower spike. Each flower is 10-15 mm long. The seed pods are 70-150 mm long, somewhat flattened with 3-6 “square” seeds.

Native to the Mediterranean region, It is an occasional weed of roadsides and ungrazed areas and flowers in winter and spring.



Two. Oval to round or hemispherical, up to 20 mm long, thick, fleshy, glossy, dark green turning yellow with age then dropping off. Tip rounded. Edges rounded. Base tapered. Surface undulating. Hairless. Seedling stem hairless below cotyledons.

First leaves:

Similar to older leaves.


5-9 finger-like leaflets attached to a central point,

Stipules - narrow and tapering to bristle-like. Joined to the petiole.

Petiole - Longer than leaflets, 25-75 mm long. Hairy.

Blade - Of leaflet, oblong, 20-60 mm long by 12-20 mm wide, abruptly tipped with a point where the midrib forms a short sharp awn. Hairless on top, hairy underneath. Edges hairy. Tip pointed, Margins smooth to slightly irregular. Base tapered. Widest near the middle or in its upper half.


Erect, 300-1600 mm tall. Sparsely hairy with long white or brownish hairs. Branches from below the flower spike.

Flower head:

50-300 mm long, spike like raceme with almost no stalk at the ends of branches or in upper leaf axils. The flowers are alternate in the lower section but may be almost in rings near the top.


On stalks (pedicels), 1-2 mm long.

Bracts - parallel sided, about 2 mm long.

Ovary - Sessile. Style hairless, incurved. Stigma terminal.

Calyx - 8-9 mm long with dense silky, golden hairs. Tube, 2-3mm long. Both lips smooth or shallowly toothed. Upper lip 5-6 mm long. Lower lip 6-7 mm long.

Petals - White tinged with blue or violet. Standard petal, 15-16 mm long. Wing petals almost as long as the standard. Keel petal has a sharp dark tip.

Stamens - United in a tube.

Anthers -


Pod, 70-150 mm long by 12-25 mm wide, somewhat flattened. Initially hairy but becoming hairless with age. 3-6 seeds in each pod.


White, dull, almost square with rounded edges, with a dimple on one or both sides. 8-14 mm diameter. Smooth. Tip rounded. Edges rounded or concave. Base rounded.


Strong taproot. Nitrogen fixing nodules on roots and especially at the top of the taproot. Top of taproot and nodules are red when cut if the plant is growing.

Key Characters:

5-9 leaflets, 12-20 mm wide.

Racemes almost sessile.

Lower flowers alternate.

Upper calyx lip entire or shallowly dentate.


Life cycle:

Annual. Seed germinates in autumn. It grows through winter and flowers from August to November. The plant dies with the onset of summer drought.


Fixes nitrogen.


By seed.

Flowering times:

October in Perth.

Spring in WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Little dormant seed.

Vegetative Propagules:



Kiev, a commercial variety, is a mutant of White Lupin.


Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread mainly by intentional planting.

Origin and History:

Mediterranean. Ethiopia. Southern Europe.





Temperate. Mediterranean.


Most abundant on light sandy soils.

Plant Associations:



Ornamental plant.

Grain legume crop.


Weed of crops, bush land and disturbed areas.

Can cause heavy stock losses due to "lupinosis" when dry.

Very susceptible to Anthracnose disease.


Three types of toxicity;

1) Lupinosis due to phomopsin produced by an associated fungus, Phomopsis leptostromiformis and results in liver damage. It occurs when stubbles or hay are grazed and may result in heavy stock losses.

2 ) Lupine poisoning is due to alkaloids in the plant and especially the seeds. It occurs when large quantities of the seed are consumed. Cattle sometimes suddenly die after eating green pods.

3) Some species in North America cause birth defects in cattle but this has not been recorded in Australia.


Lupine poisoning symptoms are usually seen after driving and include, frothing at the mouth, falling on one side, teeth grinding, laboured breathing and convulsions. If left to rest they usually recover.

Lupinosis symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite and condition, jaundice, photo sensitisation, loss or directional sense and death. Once symptoms are evident they rarely make a full recovery and may linger for months before death.


Remove stock from lupin areas. Avoid grazing stubbles or feeding large quantities of seed.

No economic treatment.



Management and Control:

Seedlings are susceptible to cultivation and grazing. Germinations may occur after planting crops and a number of selective herbicides provide good control.


1 plant/m2 is usually worth controlling in cereals to reduce contamination of grain.

Eradication strategies:

Prevent seed set for 3-4 years by mowing, grazing, cultivating, spraying or hand pulling before flowering.

Small areas can be treated with 20 mL of Tordon®75-D in 10 L of water in early winter. This will kill existing plants and leave a soil residual which controls Lupin and other broad-leaved seedlings for about a year. Larger areas can be treated with more selective herbicides such as 200 g/ha Lontrel®750 or 50 g/ha Logran®. The latter two treatments are relatively selective in bushland. For hand spraying mix 25 mL wetting agent plus 4 g Lontrel®750 or 1 g Logran® in 10 L of water. Metsulfuron(600g/kg) at 10 g/ha provides good control but is less selective. Glyphosate is relatively ineffective. Grazing by native animals usually keeps Lupins under control in healthy bushland.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Narrow-leaved Lupin (Lupinus angustifolius) has much narrower leaflets that are widest in their lower half.

Pearl Lupin (Lupinus mutabilis)

Sandplain Lupin (Lupinus cosentinii)

Tree Lupin (Lupinus arboreus)

Yellow Lupin (Lupinus luteus)

Lupinus hirsutus

Lupinus pilosus

Lupinus polyphyllus cv. Russell hybrid is naturalised in NSW, Victoria and New Zealand and has long sprays of brightly coloured flowers.

Plants of similar appearance:


Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney). P469.

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P152.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #768.1.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P281.

Moerkerk, M.R. and Barnett, A.G. (1998). More Crop Weeds. R.G. and F.J. Richardson, Melbourne. P84. Diagrams. Photos.


Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.