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Lupins

An Introduction
Beautiful and attractive at the same time, Lupins are famous for their charm s. A Popular embellishment for gardens, Lupins have a variety of hybrids and cultivars

Lupins belongs to a diverse genus of legume family which is distinguished by the long flowering spikes of all sorts of different and bright colors. In North America the native Lupinus is popularly known as Lupine whereas in Europe and Australia both the native and agricultural forms are renowned as 'lupin'.

Lupins are popular ornamental plants in gardens. There are numerous hybrids and cultivars. Some species, such as Garden Lupin (Lupinus polyphyllus) and hybrids like the Rainbow Lupin (L. × regalis) are common garden flowers. Others, such as the Yellow Bush

Lupin (L. arboreus) are considered invasive weeds when they appear outside their native range. Lupines belong to a diverse genus of the legume family that is characterized by long flowering spikes with a range of different colors.

Some species have been bred to enhance their ornamental beauty, whilst others have been a traditional food in the Mediterranean region and the Andean highlands for thousands of years.

During the 20th Century they were domesticated for modern agriculture and have become an important protein source in many parts of the world. However Lupins have a full fledged history in agriculture and as a prominent food that has been traced to be more than 2000 years old. The early Egyptian and pre-Incan civilisations had incorporated lupines in their staple food and infact Roman Civilizations encouraged the use of lupine crops to enhance the fertility of their soil.

The credit of making Lupine crop a modern crop goes to German Scientists who had experimented on as many as thousands of lupin plants to discover a sweet variety of wild lupins. The highly concentrated mixture off alkaloids was the main obstacle that had stopped lupins from being a desirable;e food crop so much so that its bitter taste made it a failure to be a animal or human food in any way. However this necessary gene of desired sweetness paved a new way for this multifaceted crop. and it was accepted in many other parts of the world as well. Today in Australia various sweet varieties are widely produced and lupins have been registered as a major food crop there.
 
Constituents of Lupins
First of all the most discussed feature of the Lupins is its bitterness and it is due to a glucoside called Lupinin which occurs in yellowish needles. However when the science discovers the reason it also finds the way to kill it. On boiling with dilute acids, this lupinin is decomposed into Lupigenin and a fermentable glucose.

Willstatter, a well known scientist explained the occurrence of the alkaloids in different species: Lupinine, a crystalline powder and Lupinidine, a syrupy liquid in LUPINUS LUTEUS and L. NIGER. Lupanine in L. ALBUS, L. ANGUSTIFOLIUS and L. PERENNIS, a pale yellow, syrupy fluid of an intensely bitter taste. E. Schmidt further affirmed that the alkaloid of the seeds of L. albus is not the same as that of the herbage. A carbohydrate analogous to dextrin has been discovered in L. luteus.

Schwartz in 1906, discovered that the seeds of LUPINUS ARABICUS contain a crystalline substance to which he gave the name of Magolan, which is a useful remedy in diabetes mellitus.
 

Medicinal Uses-

Soak the well bruised seeds of White Lupin in water nad their paste can be externally applied to ulcers, etc., and internally as well they are said to be anthelmintic, diuretic and emmenagogue.

Culpepper says they are governed by Mars in Ares:

'The lupin seeds, somewhat bitter in taste, opening and cleansing, good to destroy worms. Outwardly they are used against deformities of the skin, scabby ulcers, scald heads, and other cutaneous distempers.'

In 1917 a 'Lupin' banquet was given in Hamburg at a botanical gathering, at which a German Professor, Dr. Thoms, described the multifarious uses to which the Lupin might be put. At a table covered with a tablecloth of Lupin fibre, Lupin soup was served; after the soup came Lupin beefsteak, roasted in Lupin oil and seasoned with Lupin extract, then bread containing 20 per cent of Lupin, Lupin margarine and cheese of Lupin albumen, and finally Lupin liqueur and Lupin coffee.

Lupin soap served for washing the hands, while Lupin-fibre paper and envelopes with Lupin adhesive were available for writing.
 

Interesting Facts about Lupins
Chile has the fastest growing production of lupins in the entire world. Today about 25,000 ha land is under cultivation of lupins. Annual production reaches about 40,000 t.

Stockfeed manufacturers use the maximum lupin production for animal feed. Cows and sheep are the chief eaters of lupins followed by pigs and poultry. Agricultural usage is increasing globally. It has been assumed that in the nearing future lupins will be dominant animal feed. Other than this speculations are such that in aquaculture has been promoting lupins production to a great extent.

Surprisingly less than 4% of global production is currently consumed as human food. However, it has been estimated that around 500,000 tonnes of food containing lupin ingredients is consumed annually in the EU. This is mainly through low inclusion rates of lupin

flour in wheat-based baked goods.

Most of Australia’s lupins are produced in Western Australia which has a relatively small domestic stockfeed market. Consequently the majority of WA’s lupin production is exported. The biggest export destinations have been the EU, Japan and Korea.

The Western Gazette on May 18, 1923 praised Lupins as probably the best crop for light land, such as the poor land on the Suffolk coast, where Lupins growing is extending, as also on similar land in the northern part of Nottinghamshire.

In their natural state, lupins have adapted to the sub-artic climates of Alaska and Iceland, the arid climates of east Africa and Mexico, and the sub-tropical parts of South America and the USA.

Virgil, designated it 'tristis Lupinus,' the sad Lupine. And described it as following:

'The seeds were used as pieces of money by Roman actors in their plays and comedies, whence came the saying "nummus lupinus" - a spurious bit of money.'

If grown from seed, Lupins do not often come true to type, but if propagated, they will remain true. They must be isolated, owing to insects which might cross the pollen.

Mature Lupins stem cause a severe disease which also results in the death of the animals. In 1872, Germans discovered a disease known as lupinosis when many sheep died from grazing mature lupin stems. Since then the same disease has been reported in several countries like USA, Poland, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Sheep are highly susceptible to all such diseases.

The great value of the plant lies in its capacity for growing luxuriantly on land which is so light and sandy that hardly anything else will thrive. Being a leguminous crop, it assimilates the free nitrogen of the air, greatly enriching the soil; and on light land it is probably quite the best plant we have for green manuring.

A number of the species are cultivated only as ornamental plants, but many others are grown for fodder, and if not over-fed, are found highly nutritive and wholesome. If the seeds of certain species are eaten in a more or less mature condition, poisoning is liable to occur, great numbers of animals sometimes being affected. These poisoning accidents have occurred in Europe and in the United States.

Various Species of Lupins

  • L. arboreus (the Tree Lupin), from California and Oregon, will, when well trained, produce a branching stem several feet in height that will live through four or five years, forming a trunk of light soft wood of the thickness of a man's arm.
  • L. polyphyllus and a few allied species from the same country are tall, erect, herbaceous perennials with very handsome richlycoloured spikes of flowers, which have become permanent inmates of our garden
  • The Yellow Lupin, also a native of Southern Europe and Western Asia, is called Lupin luteus from its yellow flowers.
  • The species best known as fodder is the White Lupin.

Words of Caution

  • Lupins cross readily, hence isolation for propagation is absolutely necessary
  • The seeds need to be propagated to ensure maximum growth
  • If the seeds of certain species are eaten in a more or less mature condition, poisoning is liable to occur, great numbers of animals sometimes being affected. These poisoning accidents have occurred in Europe and in the United States.