Species Profile

Dense-flowered Lupine

Scientific Name: Lupinus densiflorus
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2005
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(ii,iii,iv,v); C1
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: An annual with a highly restricted distribution known from three Canadian locations. The total population size is small and fluctuates considerably depending on climatic conditions. These populations are subject to continued risks from habitat loss and degradation due to activities such as urban development, trampling, mowing and competition with invasive exotic plants.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in May 2005.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2006-08-15

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: | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents


Dense-flowered Lupine is an annual species that grows 20 to 30 cm tall. The stem is usually hollow and cylindrical at the base. The leaves consist of 8 to 10 small, long, narrow leaflets arranged like the fingers of an open hand. They grow at the base of the plant and alternately along the stem, but tend to cluster near the top. The plant is completely covered with small hairs, except for the upper side of the leaves, giving it an easily identifiable look. The pea-like flowers are borne on upright stalks. Each stalk contains several sets of white to pale yellowish-white flowers in whorls. The flowers often persist as dried membranes when the plant is in fruit. The fruit is an egg-shaped pod covered with coarse, stiff hair. Each pod generally contains one or two brownish-tan to olive-coloured seeds.


Distribution and Population

The Dense-flowered Lupine is found in southern British Columbia and coastal Puget Sound, Washington. Toward the south, it has a scattered distribution to California. In Canada, the species occurs on Vancouver Island. There are currently three known Canadian populations of Dense-flowered Lupine, all located in the Victoria area. The species was formerly known from Clover Point, Victoria, where it was last collected in 1954. According to surveys in 2000 and 2001, the three Canadian populations contain a total of 1800 to 2100 individuals. It is clear that these small populations experienced sizeable fluctuations. However, these populations have not been surveyed regularly or consistently, and this limits any attempt to provide accurate trend data.



In Canada, Dense-flowered Lupine inhabits eroding banks and benches above the ocean splash zone. It also grows in dry to moist grassy openings and clay cliffs. It favours level sites or slopes with a south- or west-facing exposure.



Dense-flowered Lupine is a herbaceous annual that flowers from May to October. Most seeds germinate in the autumn and winter, while others remain dormant on the soil surface at least until spring. Seed production begins in June and July and may be prolific. Seeds are probably passively gravity-dispersed, although strong onshore winter winds buffeting coastal bluffs in the Victoria area may occasionally aid in dispersal. No information is available on the biology of Dense-flowered Lupine in British Columbia. The most recent surveys of the British Columbia populations reveal that seed production is prolific, forming a seed bank in the soil, as with all annuals. In addition, Dense-flowered Lupine may be symbiotic with nitrogen-fixing Rhizobium bacteria. This may be a factor in survival and reproduction. Because the habitat of Dense-flowered Lupine seems to offer low nutrient and low water availability during the summer, the plant’s competitive advantage may be enhanced through this symbiosis.



In Canada, the primary threat to Dense-flowered Lupine is the loss and degradation of its shoreline habitat. Suitable coastline habitats in Victoria and surrounding areas have been extensively developed for residential, commercial, and recreational uses. Such development was almost certainly responsible for the loss of the Clover Point population. Habitat degradation compounds the threat to the status of this species. All three extant populations are threatened by the encroachment of exotic shrubs and grasses. Land management practices have also reduced the number of sites capable of supporting this annual plant. Landscaping, lawn fertilizing, de-thatching, and mowing are all common practices on one or more sites at which the species occurs. Finally, Canadian populations, which grow near sea level along one of the most active oil-shipping lanes in North America, are at risk from oil spills.



Federal Protection

The Dense-flowered 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.

Dense-flowered Lupine is not protected under provincial legislation.

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 Dense-flowered Lupine (Lupinus densiflorus) 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.

13 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the dense-flowered lupine Lupinus densiflorus in Canada (2005-08-12)

    Lupinus densiflorus is an annual species, 20-30 cm tall. It has palmately compound leaves that occur at the base of the plants and alternately along the stem but tend to cluster near the top. The leaf stems and undersides, stems, flowers, and stalks are densely hairy and give the plant a distinctive, easily identifiable look. The white to pale yellowish-white flowers are densely clustered in whorls and give rise to egg-shaped pods that contain one or two seeds. Only a single variety of this species is recognized in Canada (L. densiflorus var. densiflorus).

Response Statements

  • Response Statements - Dense-flowered Lupine (2005-11-15)

    An annual with a highly restricted distribution known from three Canadian locations. The total population size is small and fluctuates considerably depending on climatic conditions. These populations are subject to continued risks from habitat loss and degradation due to activities such as urban development, trampling, mowing and competition with invasive exotic plants.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Dense-flowered Lupine (Lupinus densiflorus) in Canada (2011-06-30)

    Dense-flowered Lupine is an annual plant restricted to western North America. Within its range, Dense-flowered Lupine is restricted to dry to moist grassy openings, clay cliffs, and eroding grassy banks and benches above the seashore. The Canadian populations and a small number of populations on nearby islands in Puget Sound constitute a disjunct element within the species that appears to be evolutionarily distinct and may comprise a variety (scopulorum) not occurring elsewhere. While the scopulorum variety has not been assessed individually, Dense-flowered Lupine was assessed as Endangered—the highest risk category—by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC 2005). In 2006 the species was listed as Endangered on Schedule 1 of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA).


COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005 (2005-08-12)

    2005 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#59-05-0231), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2005-02-15)

    The immediate goal of this project is to protect selected populations from habitat degradation and the effects of browsing. Depending on the species and the location, the habitat degradation is either from invasive species or human activities. In the case of Sanicula arctopoides and Lotus formosissimus, the proponents propose to remove the woody invasive species from the area adjacent to the selected subpopulations and place mesh cages over individuals to protect them from browsing. Removal of invasive species and elimination of browsing is expected to decrease the threat of habitat loss or degradation, and increase plant vigour and productivity, respectively. To determine the level of browsing protection the woody invasive Scotch Broom provides to Seriocarpus rigidus and to prevent future management errors and put the species at further risk, we must determine the impact of removal of Scotch Broom on predation from herbivores on a small scale. The proponents will experimentally remove Scotch Broom from small patches of the subpopulations that are being dominated by Scotch broom while leaving the remaining subpopulations undisturbed. Differences in browsing activity and plant vigour will be monitored. Sanicula bipinnatifida and Lupinus densiflorus var. densiflorus is being threatened at one site by habitat degradation (soil erosion facilitated by human activities) and encroaching invasive species. To prevent trampling and further soil erosion, the proponents will plant a living fence on the crest of the upper slope of the subpopulation to redirect foot traffic away from the species at risk.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2007-0050), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2007-05-08)

    In order to protect a suite of SARA Schedule 1 plants at risk from habitat degradation at various federal properties, invasive species will be removed from the area adjacent to sub-populations of these species at risk by pulling by hand or manually cutting. Invasion of exotic species has been identified as a serious and increasing threat to these sub-populations. The invasive species biomass will be removed from the sites. Removal of invasive plants is believed to increase habitat availability for plants at risk, prevent future competition, as well as increase plant vigour, seed production and population size.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2007-0051), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2007-05-09)

    In order to protect selected populations of two SARA-listed plant species (Sanicula bipinnatifida and Lupinus densiflorus var. densiflorus), split rail fences and signs will be installed to protect these populations from habitat degradation (soil erosion and compaction facilitated by human activities), the effects of trampling (by human and canine activities) and browsing. Invasive woody species have previously been removed from this site, as encroachment of invasive species threatens the long-term persistence of these populations. This removal of invasive woody shrubs will be continued. The effects of these activities on the species at risk will be monitored by assessing the species for leaf damage during the growing season.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2008-0099), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2008-08-08)

    The goal of this project is to implement stewardship activities to protect a species at risk. The project will 'rescue' seeds of Lupinus densiflorus var. densiflorus (dense-flowered lupine) that are found below the high-tide line. These seeds would otherwise be washed out to sea during storm tides. Sterilized feather forceps will be used to collect seeds from below the permanent vegetation line. Collected seeds will be scattered upslope in areas where dense-flowered lupine plants occur. A maximum of 75% of the seeds below the high-tide line will be collected and distributed upslope. This activity is beneficial to the species. Dense-flowered lupine is an endangered annual plant. Collection of seeds that would otherwise be lost, and retaining them on site will help prevent the population from dwindling.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2009-0117), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2010-09-04)

    Surveys of Dense-flowered Lupine will be undertaken to search for gall-like deformities and eriophyid mites. Small samples of the leaves of the plant will be taken to search for eriophyid mites that may be occurring on the above-ground material, and will involve taking up to 10cm (more likely no more than 5cm) pieces of vegetative growth (non-reproductive) from the plants and dissecting them for mite presence under a microscope at a nearby laboratory. The root systems and reproductive system of the plants will remain untouched and intact. Samples collected in July and August will be from plant material that will soon die from senescence.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2009-0126), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2010-02-04)

    The goal of this project is to protect selected populations of rare species from habitat degradation due to invasive species or conifer encroachment. The species include: Bartramia stricta, Rigid Apple Moss Dryopteris arguta, Coastal Wood Fern Enthostodon fascicularis,Banded Cord-moss Epilobium densiflorum, Dense Spike-primrose Limnanthes macounii ,Macoun's Meadowfoam Lotus formosissimus, Seaside Birds-foot Lotus Lupinus densiflorus, Dense-flowered Lupine Meconella oregano, White Meconella Microseris bigelovii, Coast Microseris Minuartia pusilla, Dwarf Sandwort Ranunculus alismifolius, Water-plantain Buttercup Sanicula arctopoides, Bear's-foot Sanicle Sanicula bipinnatifida, Purple Sanicle Tortula laevipila, Twisted Oak Moss The permit proposal is for multi-year species at risk (SAR) stewardship activities at several Department of National Defence (DND) properties on Southern Vancouver Island. The SAR at each site occur in open meadows that are being encroached by invasive species such as: Scotch broom, English ivy, gorse, English holly, Daphne spurge, English hawthorn, herbaceous annual and biennial weeds, annual and perennial grasses and/or conifers. The goal is to remove the invading species from the area within and adjacent to the selected SAR populations.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species Under the Species At Risk Act: November 2005 (2005-11-16)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.
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