Close-up View of a Second Lupine Hybrid
by Brian Johnston (Canada)
had recently photographed a
blue hybrid lupine, seeing this strikingly colourful plant at my
greenhouse provided a temptation that could not be
resisted. I am
constantly struck by the freshness and beauty of this
The plants look remarkably healthy, with unblemished leaves and
colourful flower-spikes, and they are a pleasure to
No flimsy waving or vibrating stalks here, at the mercy of every
of the photographer, or passing truck!
In North America, the common
of the genus is spelled lupine; elsewhere it is lupin.
spellings are correct. Most members of this family, often
the ‘bean’, ‘pea’, or Fabaceae
can ‘fix’ nitrogen from the atmosphere into compounds which
the soil. On its roots there are nodules which contain
bacteria. Strangely, it was once believed that lupines
or ‘wolfed’ the soil’s fertility. Both the common and
were thus based on the Latin ‘lupus’, which translates to
Although the plant is very beneficial to the soil, its seeds are
certainly not a good food for grazing animals. Lupinine,
alkaloid, is the major poison, but the plants also contain
The first image in the article
shows a section of the 80 centimetre high plant photographed for
article. What a remarkable transformation occurs as a
flower-head develops into the mature bloom seen below.
The process begins with a tiny
centimetre high bud, and its associated leaflet.
hint of the flower-head’s final colouration is apparent at this
Overlapping pale green sepals
protect the underlying immature flowers. Note the paw-like
of the nearby leaflet.
Higher magnification of the
reveals that its surface is covered by a mass of fine,
that make it soft to the touch.
Another view shows that the
overlapping sepals on the flower-head are exceedingly hairy as
As the flower-head grows, its
length increases faster than its diameter, which results in a
cone-shaped structure. At the base of the cone, hints
to the final flower colour.
Closer views of this early
can be seen below. Notice in the image on the right, that
underlying pink petals, as they increase in size, have pushed
associated green sepal.
In the middle section of the
only the overlying sepals are visible.
A flower-head blooms from the
bottom up. The image that follows shows the very start of
process as the growing pink flower pushes aside its clasping
Over a period of about a day,
and more sepals are displaced by growing, immature
sequence of images that follows, (taken with increasing
shows this developmental stage.
At the transition zone, both
and their associated sepals have a pinkish-red colouration.
Still later, the first flowers
bloom, (at the base of the flower-head) have grown away from the
stem on the ends of their supporting stalks. At this stage
sepals that were the predominant visual structure, have been
by the flowers themselves.
Higher up the flower-head,
tips of the flowers have developed a red tint.
Note in the two images below,
the breadth of the lupine’s flowers increases as they develop.
Front and side views of an
flower can be seen below. Notice on the right that the
is small compared to the flower bud that it formerly
Eventually all of these sepals turn brown, shrivel, and drop
Here is a sequence of images
shows the middle section of a flower-head when the deep red
has almost encompassed the entire structure. In all of the
notice that in some of the lower flowers the two side petals
apart to reveal a lighter pink interior.
In the lower part of the
flower-head on the left below, lupine flowers have reached their
appearance. A closer view of one of these flowers can be
Even at this late
flower-head’s tip is as immature as the bud-stage shown at the
beginning of the article.
In contrast, the central
in full bloom.
Individual flowers are
narrow diameter stalks connected to the main stem.
Lupines possess the ‘typical’
Consider the flower just to
right of centre, at the bottom of the image that follows.
large oval petal at the flower’s top is called the banner.
flower immediately above, the two halves of the banner are
on both sides of a structure formed by the wings of the
In the flower at the top of the image, the folded banner is
contact with the wings. More detailed views will show
structures more clearly later in the article.
In the four images that
banner has folded way back on both sides. This is the
of a lupine flower.
The side view of a flower
banner at its top, and one of the two wings that enclose its
Enlarged images of a wing can
seen below. The one on the left is pristine, but the older
the right has evidence of some sort of blight.
Several images follow that
striking contrast between the colourful blooms, and the plant’s
The two wings positioned
the flower’s banner are separate entities that appear to form a
container with no openings.
Close examination of the
shown here reveals a gap that has formed at the top front of the
If one of the wings is
strangely shaped structure called the keel is revealed.
flower’s stamens and pistil are contained within this keel.
In fact, if you look closely,
can see the bright yellow pollen grains within the keel.
Beneath the keel is one of the
sepals mentioned earlier in the article.
The sequence of three images
taken with increasing magnification, shows the top of the keel,
bright yellow pollen grains that adhere to it. When an
alights on the wings of the flower, pressure is applied to the
keel. This pressure causes the top of the keel to separate
its two separate sections, leaving a gap or opening. One
insect’s appendages, or part of its body can then come into
with the constituents of the keel container – pollen covered
In the following image, the
sections of this keel container have been removed to show the
contents. A single long pistil is visible, as are a number
Here both wings and keel have
The first image below shows
stamens come in two lengths – short and long. The upward
pistil is also visible in this image. The remaining three
show higher magnification views of pollen encrusted anthers and
Views of a flower’s pistil,
the stigma supported by the style, can be seen below.
Here is what a flower-head
like about a week after the bud stage. It is a view well
Next we’re going to look at
leaves. The leaflets, to start, are packed together as
As the leaves open, it is
that the approximately 12 leaflets are arranged in a fan
This shape is referred to as digitate (like the fingers of a
hand). Now that the leaflets have fanned out into their
positions, there is one more development that must occur. The
have been folded in half lengthwise, and they must unfold.
The images that follow show
appearance of the mature leaves.
Each leaflet is joined to the
stalk by its extremely prominent under-surface vein.
The leaflet’s under-surface is
liberally covered with fine hairs.
Finally, here are some
views of the very large potted plant that was the subject of
The low magnification, (to
macro-photographs were taken using a 13 megapixel Canon 5D full
DSLR, using a Canon EF 180 mm 1:3.5 L Macro lens.
A 10 megapixel Canon 40D DSLR,
equipped with a specialized high magnification (1x to 5x) Canon
lens, the MP-E 65 mm 1:2.8, was used to take the remainder of
A Flower Garden of
A complete graphical index of
of my flower articles can be found here.
The Colourful World
A complete graphical index of
of my crystal articles can be found here.
Microscopy UK or their contributors.
Published in the
April 2012 edition of Micscape.
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