Lupine – a discovery of the Beautiful Unknown

Wild Lupine, Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand

It is difficult not to become a fan of lupine once you get to know her. But not so many people do. I met her recently in Italy.

What is it about her?

Cooked lupine seeds are famous among the elderly Italians in southern Italy, eaten together with beer. The gentlemen have developed a special technique to open the husk with the teeth and let the hearty-fleshy inner seed flip into the mouth in only one movement.

Lupines grow along the border of splendiferously juicy fields full of poppies. Their blossoms, in tender blue, yellow or rose, hold their own alongside the radiant red of the poppies. This happens mostly in Italy, but it can also happen in Germany (as I found out talking to other lupine fans). There are apparently even whole fields of lupines – what a dream! – but it is still hard to find them.

A very prominent lupine fan was Frederick the Great. He met the lupine on one of his travels of conquest, and was immediately smitten. He dreamt of lupine fields and wanted to introduce the flower to Prussia, so that they potentially could save the population from hunger in times of distress. He even imposed coercive measures to repeat the lupine growing trials, which failed in the first years. But people didn’t give the plant a chance because of the bitter taste of its seeds. They didn’t know that the bitterness could be counteracted with a three-day water bath. Also, they probably didn’t read St. Hildegard von Bingen’s 1158 Physica where she describes how to heal the suffering of the intestines with the aid of lupines. Along with Frederick, Bingen, too, was an early lupine fan.


The most striking feature of the lupine plant is that she is still not famous, regardless of her outstanding qualities. It should be easy to change this fact, we just have to talk about the lupine for a little bit. Let’s mention that lupine seeds are not only pulses with all its benefits, but that they are also easy digestible because they don’t contain flatulent substances. In times in which it is so desirable to eat less meat, let’s also talk about the seed’s particularly high protein content, which almost reaches that of soybeans. But, of course, the lupine surpasses the soybean on the whole, because very often, the lupine barely has to travel to reach the consumer. That is because the lupine is one of the few creatures that comes from the Mediterranean area, but still loves the cold. It is at home everywhere, including the sandy terrain around Berlin.

Berliners, plant lupines into your urban gardens! Brandenburgers, grow bright lupine fields around the city! Feed the metropolis of vegans together with proteins while also doing the rest of the population a favor: the soluble fibers are good against diabetes and heart disease.

Lupine seeds can transform into a lot of things – flour for bread, oil for cooking, milk and quark for the lactose intolerant. Roasted, the seeds turn into coffee substitute and cooked into a snack (which you can also open and transport into your mouth with only one movement). The best of all is maybe lupine ice cream. Additionally, lupine leaves share similarities with hemp, and can be processed into textiles.

The lupine is beautiful, and the lupine is good. Why is she not known? Maybe she is just modest. How likable!


Text (DE): Theresa Patzschke
Images: hdwpics, wallpaperslot, wikipedia


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