Common Name
Lupine, blue bonnet
Botanic Name
Lupinus L. species (100 species in North America)
Plant Family
Fabaceae (Legume family)
Varied, from dry sandy soils of the prairie grasslands, to high mountain meadows.
Throughout North America
Animals Affected
Sheep most susceptible, but cattle, and horses also susceptible. Goats are quite resistant to the toxic effects of lupines.
Toxic Principle
Quinolizidine alkaloids. Highest concentrations are found in the seeds. Anagyrine is the principle teratogenic alkaloid found in wild lupine species (not in grain lupines). The anagyrine stops uterine motility, constraining fetal movement that results in skeletal deformity. Not all lupine species are poisonous. Lupines are associated with several different poisoning syndromes: 1. Lupin poisoning is a disease most often seen in sheep eating the seeds and pods of certain lupine species. (L. argentues, L. leucophyllus, L. leucopsis, L. sericeus) 2. Crooked calf disease (L. caudatus, L.latifolius, L. laxiflorus, L. sericeus, L. sulphureus.) 3. Lupinosis - a liver toxicosis caused by a fungus growing on lupine stubble. 4. Decreased growth rates due to quinolizidine alkaloids present in grain lupines
Perennial or annual herbs with characteristics palmate leaves. Each leaf has 6-9 narrow leaflets. The flowers are white to blue/purple, pea-like, produced at the end of branches. Seeds are produced in pea-like pods.
Boney deformities of the legs and vertebrae.
Congenital Defects
Deformities of the bones of the legs, vertebrae and cleft palate occurs in calves whose mother consumed lupine during days 40-70 of gestation.
No known treatment
Respiratory System
Sheep eating large quantities wild lupine seeds/pods (1.5% body weight) develop acute respiratory failure and die.
Hepatic System
Lupinosis is a liver diease caused by mycotoxins (phomopsins) produced by a fungus growing on the pods or seeds. Common in Australia but not in North America.)
Special Notes
Since lupines are most toxic in early growth and when seed pods are present, cattle should be kept from grazing the plants at these stages. Pregnant cows should not have access to lupines during the first 3 months of pregnancy, and especially between the 40-70th days of pregnancy.
Silvery lupine showing leaves and flowers.
Cleft palate in a calf
Calf born with crooked legs due to lupine
Lupine showing typical leaf and flower