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Toxic parts

The seed of many lupin species contain bitter-tasting toxic alkaloids, though there are often sweet varieties within that species that are completely wholesome[1][2]. Taste is a very clear indicator. These toxic alkaloids can be leeched out of the seed by soaking it overnight and discarding the soak water. It may also be necessary to change the water once during cooking. Fungal toxins also readily invade the crushed seed and can cause chronic illness[1].

Edible uses


Seed - cooked[3]. Used as a protein-rich vegetable or savoury dish in any of the ways that cooked beans are used. The seed can also be ground into a meal and then used with cereal flours in making bread etc[4]. The seed contains up to 50% protein that is rich in lysine and cystine but very low in methionine[5][4]. If the seed is bitter this is due to the presence of toxic alkaloids, these alkaloids can usually be removed by soaking the seed overnight and discarding the water[6]. Another report suggests that the seed needs to be soaked for 2 - 3 days in order to leech out the alkaloids[5]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[3][5]. It is relatively rich in unsaturated fatty acids, including the nutritionally essential linoleic acid[4].

Unknown part


Material uses

Seed yields up to 18% of an edible oil with uses similar to Soya oil (Glycine soya)[3][7]. Soya oil has a very wide range of applications and is commonly used in the chemical industry[8][9]. It is also used in making soap, plastics, paints etc[10][11][12]. An excellent green manure crop, it is able to fix as much as 400kg of atmospheric nitrogen per hectare[4].

Unknown part


Medicinal uses(Warning!)

There are no medicinal uses listed for Lupinus mutabilis.


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Green manure

Nitrogen fixer


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and sow in mid spring in situ[13][6]. You may need to protect the seed from mice. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. The seed can also be sown in situ as late as early summer as a green manure crop.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Lupinus mutabilis. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


An easily grown plant, succeeding in any moderately good soil in a sunny position[6]. Requires an acid to neutral soil[6]. This species might be intolerant of lime[13]. Succeeds on poor soils, its taproot breaking up the sub-soil[4]. Once established, it is a very drought tolerant plant[4].

Mature plants tolerate frost[4]. This has not been our experience, although they tolerate light frosts, the plants are killed by heavy or prolonged frosts[K]. The pearl lupin is cultivated in Tropical and Sub-tropical zones for its edible seed, there are many named varieties. The seed of most forms contains bitter alkaloids that need to be leached out before the seed can be eaten, however there are some forms that have sweet alkaloid-free seeds[3]. This species has excellent potential as a food crop in temperate zones. It is day-length neutral, flowering and fruiting well at most latitudes[4]. The plants flower and ripen seed continuously until killed by cold weather, making mechanical harvesting difficult[4]. Plants take from 5 - 11 months to fully ripen their crop[4]. The genes for low-alkaloid types are recessive so they have to be grown separated from other forms if the strains are to be kept pure[4]. It is also probable that plants will hybridize with other species in this genus[4].

This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[6]. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Lupinus mutabilis. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Lupinus mutabilis.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Lupinus mutabilis
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Drought
  • Strong wind
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type


  1. ? 1.01.1 Frohne. D. and Pf?nder. J. A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants. Wolfe ISBN 0723408394 (1984-00-00)
  2. ? Cooper. M. and Johnson. A. Poisonous Plants in Britain and their Effects on Animals and Man. HMSO ISBN 0112425291 (1984-00-00)
  3. ? Carruthers. S. P. (Editor) Alternative Enterprises for Agriculture in the UK. Centre for Agricultural Strategy, Univ. of Reading ISBN 0704909820 (1986-00-00)
  4. ? Popenoe. H. et al Lost Crops of the Incas National Academy Press ISBN 0-309-04264-X (1990-00-00)
  5. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  6. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  7. ? 7.07.1 Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
  8. ? 8.08.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
  9. ? 9.09.1 Larkcom J. Oriental Vegetables John Murray ISBN 0-7195-4781-4 (1991-00-00)
  10. ? 10.010.1 Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G. The Oxford Book of Food Plants. Oxford University Press (1975-00-00)
  11. ? 11.011.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  12. ? 12.012.1 Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide. Oxford University Press ISBN 0192176218 (1969-00-00)
  13. ? 13.013.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)