Species Profile

Oregon Lupine

Scientific Name: Lupinus oreganus
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2008
COSEWIC Status: Extirpated
COSEWIC Status Criteria:
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: The species has only been recorded from Oak Bay, Victoria, BC, where it was first collected in 1924. The last record of its existence in Canada is a collection made from the same area in 1929. The species has not been recorded since its last collection in the region in spite of extensive botanical surveys within southeastern Vancouver Island over the last several decades.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Extirpated in November 2008.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Extirpated
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2011-02-04

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Taxonomy | Description | Habitat | Biology | Reasons for extirpation | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents


Two varieties of Oregon Lupine are recognized: kincaidii and oreganus. Since the species is represented in Canada only by the variety oreganus, the name Oregon Lupine is used here without specifying the variety.



Oregon Lupine is a perennial of the bean family that grows 40 to 80 cm tall. The plant has a branched crown and basal leaves that persist until after flowering. The leaves of the stem have 9 to 11 segments called “leaflets” that are sharply pointed and 2.5 to 4 cm in length. The upper surface of the deep green leaves is often hairless. Plants have single to multiple unbranched stems that bear short hairs and aromatic, yellowish-cream flowers, often showing shades of blue on the lower petal. The flowers, which are 9 to 12 mm long, are borne on short stalks called pedicels that are 4 to 10 mm long. The five petals form a two-lipped asymmetrical structure, similar to that of pea flowers. The upper petal, or banner, is distinctly ruffled and bent outward slightly. The flowers are clustered in vertical whorls and are not closely crowded. Each whorl contains several rows of flowers arranged in concentric rings along a central axis at the tip of the stem. The fruit is a pod that is 2 to 3 cm long. With its low growing habit and unbranched inflorescence, Oregon Lupine is easily distinguished from other members of the genus that occur in the same habitat. It has a characteristic kink or ruffle in the banner, which, combined with long leaf stalks and smooth upper leaf-surfaces, make it easy to identify.


Distribution and Population

Oregon Lupine is found only in a narrow band west of the Cascades from Douglas County, Oregon, to Lewis County, Washington, and into southern British Columbia. In Canada, it has been found at one site in the Victoria/Oak Bay region on Vancouver Island, where it is now extirpated. In Canada, Oregon Lupine has been collected only seven times, always in the same locality. The last collection was in 1929; the species has not been recorded since, despite extensive botanical surveys within southeastern Vancouver Island over the last several decades. The population closest to the historic Canadian population is located 260 km to the south, in Lewis County, Washington. Given the limited ability of this species to disperse, the Canadian population is unlikely to be rescued by natural circumstances with seeds from the United States.



Oregon Lupine occupies prairie or open areas, such as open oak woodlands. These areas are dominated by short bunch grasses and forbs. Oregon Lupine is unable to survive prolonged periods of shade. Soils are damp to somewhat dry, low in nitrates, moderately infertile, and acidic. Oregon Lupine needs a summer-dry sub-Mediterranean climate, which in Canada only occurs on southeast Vancouver Island and some of the adjacent Gulf Islands.



Oregon Lupine is a perennial that flowers from April to June. In the United States, where it still occurs, plants enter dormancy in July, in response to summer drought, and wither by mid-August. Flowers possess a pump or piston arrangement for cross-pollination by insects, which is critical to fruit and seed set. Pollinators are believed to be small members of the bee family, such as bumblebees and European honeybees. Seeds do not have any specific mode of dispersal, and are dispersed when the fruits open explosively upon drying. In addition to reproducing by seed, individual plants are capable of spreading by underground stems, or rhizomes, producing large clumps of clones. Thus, seemingly individual plants 10 m or more apart can be interconnected by underground stems. A number of insect species feed on Oregon Lupine. Stem and root borers may include the larvae of several species of true weevils, while sapsuckers include true bugs, leafhoppers and aphids. The larvae of certain butterflies, such as Silvery Blues, may cause significant defoliation. Oregon Lupine grows in symbiosis with atmospheric nitrogen–fixing bacteria. This mutually beneficial relationship may be very important for early establishment and growth in low-nitrate soils. Since upland prairies are dry and nutrient-poor, the association with bacteria is thought to give Oregon Lupine a competitive advantage. Oregon Lupine can live for more than 25 years.


Reasons for extirpation

Present threats within the former habitat of Oregon Lupine include habitat loss due to urban development, decline in habitat quality due to the spread of invasive species, increased recreational use, and fire suppression. In Canada, habitat loss was the primary threat in the past, but many of the remaining fragments of suitable habitat in Victoria and Oak Bay are now within municipal and regional parks, where they are protected from rapid development. In contrast, threats posed by invasive species and the consequences of fire protection have remained constant or have increased. Close to one third of the maritime meadow habitat has been altered through invasion by alien trees and shrubs, and the remainder is currently being invaded. Apart from habitat threats, the greatest threats to the recovery of Oregon Lupine in Canada are park management activities such as mowing and recreational activities, which result in trampling. Significant areas of maritime meadow in Victoria and Oak Bay are still mowed for aesthetic reasons or to create fire breaks. Mowing causes direct damage to plants of maritime meadows and also encourages park visitors to roam more widely than they would if the vegetation was left unmown.



Federal Protection

The Oregon Lupine is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Oregon Lupine is not protected under any provincial legislation in British Columbia.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Oregon Lupine (Lupinus oreganus) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry


Recovery Team

Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team

  • Conan Webb - Chair/Contact - Parks Canada
    Phone: 250-478-5153  Send Email



PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

7 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Oregon Lupine Lupinus oreganus in Canada (2009-08-28)

    Oregon Lupine (Lupinus oreganus) is a long-lived perennial of the bean family (Fabaceae). Its aromatic flowers have a slightly reflexed, distinctly ruffled upper petal (banner), and are yellowish-cream coloured, often showing shades of blue on the lower petal (keel). The upper calyx lip is short, yet not obscured by the reflexed banner when viewed from above. The leaflets tend to a deep green with an upper surface that is often hairless. The plants are 40 to 80 cm tall, with single to multiple unbranched flowering stems and basal leaves that remain after flowering.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Oregon Lupine (2009-11-25)

    The species has only been recorded from Oak Bay, Victoria, BC, where it was first collected in 1924. The last record of its existence in Canada is a collection made from the same area in 1929. The species has not been recorded since its last collection in the region in spite of extensive botanical surveys within southeastern Vancouver Island over the last several decades.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Oregon Lupine (Lupinus oreganus) in Canada (2013-12-20)

    Oregon Lupine (Lupinus oreganus Heller) was assessed as Extirpated in 2008 by the Committee on the Status of endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and in 2011 the Canadian population was listed as Extirpated on Schedule 1 of Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA).


COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2009 (2009-08-28)

    2009 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species, December 2009 (2009-12-17)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by March 1, 2010 for species undergoing normal consultations and by March 1, 2011 for species undergoing extended consultations.
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