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SPECIES:  Lupinus caudatus
Tailcup lupine in the Blue Mountains. Image by Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired),


SPECIES: Lupinus caudatus
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Lupinus caudatus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions: The Taxonomy section was updated on 8 November 2018. Images were also added.
ABBREVIATION: LUPCAU SYNONYMS: None NRCS PLANT CODE: LUCA COMMON NAMES: tailcup lupine Cutler's spurred lupine Kellogg's spurred lupine spurred lupine TAXONOMY: The scientific name of tailcup lupine is Lupinus caudatus Kellogg (Fabaceae) [14,15,19,46,53]. Lupinus is a taxonomically complex genus and there is much confusion regarding nomenclature. Species within the genus are extremely variable and freely intergrade, making morphological characteristics used to separate taxa few and inconsistent. There is disagreement among authorities concerning recognized infrataxa [15,19,53]. Generally recognized subspecies include [46]: Lupinus caudatus Kellogg subsp. argophyllus (A. Gray) L. Phillips, Kellogg's spurred lupine Lupinus caudatus Kellogg subsp. caudatus, tailcup lupine Lupinus caudatus Kellogg subsp. cutleri (Eastw.) Hess & D. Dunn, Cutler's spurred lupine Lupinus caudatus Kellogg subsp. montigenus (A. Heller) Hess & D. Dunn, Kellogg's spurred lupine LIFE FORM: Forb FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Lupinus caudatus
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Tailcup lupine is distributed from eastern Washington, Oregon, and California east to Montana, southwestern South Dakota, northwestern Nebraska, Colorado, and New Mexico [14,26,42,53].
Distribution of tailcup lupine. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC. [2018, November 8] [46].
   FRES20  Douglas-fir
   FRES21  Ponderosa pine
   FRES22  Western white pine
   FRES23  Fir - spruce
   FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce
   FRES25  Larch
   FRES26  Lodgepole pine
   FRES28  Western hardwoods
   FRES29  Sagebrush
   FRES30  Desert shrub
   FRES33  Southwestern shrubsteppe
   FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper
   FRES36  Mountain grasslands
   FRES37  Mountain meadows
   FRES38  Plains grasslands
   FRES40  Desert grasslands
   FRES44  Alpine

     AZ  CA  CO  ID  MT  NE  NV  NM  OR  SD
     UT  WA  WY

    4  Sierra Mountains
    5  Columbia Plateau
    6  Upper Basin and Range
    7  Lower Basin and Range
    8  Northern Rocky Mountains
    9  Middle Rocky Mountains
   10  Wyoming Basin
   11  Southern Rocky Mountains
   12  Colorado Plateau
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont
   14  Great Plains
   15  Black Hills Uplift
   16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

   K001  Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest
   K003  Silver fir - Douglas-fir forest
   K004  Fir - hemlock forest
   K005  Mixed conifer forest
   K007  Red fir forest
   K008  Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest
   K010  Ponderosa shrub forest
   K011  Western ponderosa forest
   K012  Douglas-fir forest
   K013  Cedar - hemlock - pine forest
   K014  Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest
   K015  Western spruce - fir forest
   K016  Eastern ponderosa forest
   K017  Black Hills pine forest
   K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest
   K019  Arizona pine forest
   K020  Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest
   K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest
   K022  Great Basin pine forest
   K023  Juniper - pinyon woodland
   K024  Juniper steppe woodland
   K026  Oregon oakwoods
   K027  Mesquite bosque
   K031  Oak - juniper woodlands
   K032  Transition between K031 and K037
   K033  Chaparral
   K034  Montane chaparral
   K037  Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub
   K038  Great Basin sagebrush
   K039  Blackbrush
   K040  Saltbush - greasewood
   K041  Creosotebush
   K042  Creosotebush - bursage
   K050  Fescue - wheatgrass
   K051  Wheatgrass - bluegrass
   K052  Alpine meadows and barren
   K053  Grama - galleta steppe
   K055  Sagebrush steppe
   K056  Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe
   K057  Galleta - three-awn shrubsteppe
   K058  Grama - tobosa shrubsteppe
   K063  Foothills prairie
   K064  Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass
   K065  Grama - buffalograss
   K066  Wheatgrass - needlegrass
   K067  Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass
   K068  Wheatgrass - grama - buffalograss

   205  Mountain hemlock
   206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
   207  Red fir
   209  Bristlecone pine
   210  Interior Douglas-fir
   211  White fir
   212  Western larch
   213  Grand fir
   215  Western white pine
   216  Blue spruce
   217  Aspen
   218  Lodgepole pine
   219  Limber pine
   220  Rocky Mountain juniper
   224  Western hemlock
   225  Western hemlock - Sitka spruce
   227  Western redcedar - western hemlock
   228  Western redcedar
   230  Douglas-fir - western hemlock
   237  Interior ponderosa pine
   238  Western juniper
   239  Pinyon - juniper
   241  Western live oak
   242  Mesquite
   243  Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
   247  Jeffrey pine
   248  Knobcone pine
   256  California mixed subalpine

Tailcup lupine is found in a variety of habitats including grassland,
sagebrush, desert and mountain shrub, and coniferous forest
[14,26,35,53].  The following publications list tailcup lupine as a
herbaceous layer dominant in sagebrush (Artemisia ssp.), singleleaf
pinyon (Pinus monophylla), or lodgepole pine (P. contorta) habitats:

Vegetation and soils of the Pine and Mathews Canyon watersheds [3]
Pinyon-juniper succession after fires on residual soils of the Mesa
  Verde, Colorado [11]
Classification and ordination of seral communities [37]
Plant associations of the central Oregon Pumice Zone [48]
Ecological classification of lodgepole pine in the United States [49]


SPECIES: Lupinus caudatus
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Tailcup lupine is readily to moderately available within its range and is consumed to a moderate to high degree by elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, antelope, upland game birds, small nongame birds, and small mammals [8].  On the Columbia Plateau in north-central Oregon, tailcup lupine comprised 70.9 percent of all forb shoots consumed by pocket gophers in June.  Leaves were also heavily utilized [7].   Tailcup lupine is also utilized by sheep, cattle, and horses [8,45]. PALATABILITY: Palatability of tailcup lupine is rated as poor to fair for cattle and horses and fair for sheep [8].  The early vegetative foliage and immature pods are more palatable to sheep than mature vegetation, probably corresponding to a relatively low alkaloid content early in the growing season [30]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Nutritional values of stems and leaves of tailcup lupine at different developmental stages have been reported [27]. COVER VALUE: Tailcup lupine provides fair to good cover for small nongame birds and small mammals [8]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: Tailcup lupine's ability to fix nitrogen allows it to colonize soils of low fertility.  At high-altitude sites in Utah and Montana, it had the highest average acetylene reduction activity per plant compared to other nitrogen-fixing species [17].  In the Boise River Watershed in Idaho, tailcup lupine was not useful in controlling erosion because it does not have a mat-forming root system. The areas dominated by invader species, including tailcup lupine, were those most susceptible to erosion due to high utilization by livestock [36].  Overall, tailcup lupine has been given a medium to low rating for erosion control, and a high to low rating for its use in long-term revegetation in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana [8].  The lupine genus as a whole has possiblities for use in management, but more information is needed on the response of the genus to withstand disturbance in a wide range of habitats [18].   OTHER USES AND VALUES: A drug has been extracted from tailcup lupine for use in controlling cardiac arrhythmia [41]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Tailcup lupine is highly toxic to livestock, especially to sheep [20,32,42,45].  It is less toxic to cattle and horses [20], but causes calf deformities if ingested by cows between 40 to 70 days gestation [16,25,44].  It produces quinolizidine alkaloids which affect the nervous system [25,30].  The alkaloid content of aboveground vegetative parts peaks in mid-June at 0.9 percent and decreases to 0.2 percent in August, during the pod stage.  Alkaloid content of seeds ranges from 2.3 to 9.5 percent, making them highly toxic [30].  Lupines (Lupinus spp.) are responsible for more losses of sheep in Montana, Idaho, and Utah than any other plant genus [20,32].  Tailcup lupine is one of the most poisonous of the lupine species.  In the seed stage it is probably the most toxic member of the genus [16,44].  Plants are toxic from ay least the beginning of spring growth until they dry in late summer [16,28,44]. Dry plants are probably poisonous as well [20].  Sheep are poisoned by ingesting 0.13 to 0.25 pound (0.06-0.11 kg) daily for 3 to 4 days. Cattle usually graze tailcup lupine only when other forage is not available.  Ingestion of 1 to 1.5 pounds of tailcup lupine (0.45-0.68 kg) daily will poison cattle.  The symptoms associated with tailcup lupine poisoning have been described in detail [20,41,44,45].  It is apparently not toxic to wildlife [8,23,45]. Tailcup lupine increases under intensive grazing and is most abundant under poor to fair range conditions [28,47,51].  It often forms nearly pure stands in overgrazed areas [47].  Poisoning of livestock occurs when poor range management has resulted in overgrazing and depletion of preferred rangeland species [25].  Tailcup lupine is unlikely to be dangerous under normal range conditions [20].  Where lupine species are common, rangeland should be utilized when other forage is abundant, and especially when lupines are not in fruit [44,45].  Tailcup lupine has been controlled with the application of various esters of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T [6,16,24,28].  Plants should be sprayed after they are approximately 5 inches (12.7 cm) tall, but before they bloom [16,44]. After spraying, grazing should be deferred to let desirable species occupy the range [28]. Tailcup lupine is common in pine types (Pinus jeffreyi and P. ponderosa) in northeastern California.  Frequency of tailcup lupine on 40-year-old units given various silvicultural methods was as follows [50]:       Silvicultural Method          Frequency (%)      sanitation salvage                  20      moderate selection cut              24      heavy selection cut                 10      clearcut                            <1            Lupines (L. caudatus and L. sericeus) responded with minor changes in canopy cover to different management regimes in Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)/pinegrass (Calamagrostis rubescens) habitat types in central Idaho.  Plants decreased slightly in cover, but seedlings established when stands were selectively cut or clearcut followed by mechanical scarification.  There was a slight vegetative increase in stands that were clearcut with no site preparation.  Seedling establishment and increased cover were evident in stands destroyed by wildfire and in stands that were clearcut followed by broadcast burning [39].


SPECIES: Lupinus caudatus
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Tailcup lupine is a native, perennial, cool-season forb [28,41,51]. Simple or branched stems arise from a woody caudex and are generally 8 to 16 inches (20-40 cm) tall.  Leaves are basal and have 5 to 9 leaflets.  The inflorescence is a terminal raceme and flowers have a conspicuous spur.  Pods contain four to six seeds [14,15,26,53]. Tailcup lupine has a stout, deep taproot [5]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Chamaephyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Tailcup lupine most often reproduces by seed [39,41,47].  The seeds are heavy and are not widely dispersed.  They will germinate in full sun or partial shade.  Tailcup lupine is not rhizomatous but will sprout from the caudex [39]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Tailcup lupine is found on dry sites on gentle to steep slopes and in open woods [8,9,26].  It grows best in dry, well-drained gravelly, sandy, sandy-loam, and clayey-loam soils.  It does not grow well in clay or other organic, sodic-saline, or acid soils.  Tailcup lupine has been found to 10,400 feet (3,150 m) elevation in Colorado [8]. Species commonly associated with tailcup lupine in sagebrush or grassland habitats include Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii), mountain snowberry (Symphoricarpos oreophilus), Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii), curlleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius), manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.), Utah serviceberry (Amelanchier utahensis), rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus spp.), broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae), wyethia (Wyethia spp.), arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata), knotweed (Polygonum spp.), buckwheat (Eriogonum spp.), penstemon (Penstemon spp.), phlox (Phlox spp.), bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata), Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda), needle-and-thread grass (Stipa comata), Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis), Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides), buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides), and cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) [1,3,5,10,43]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Tailcup lupine persists under partial shade, but it's cover increases with more sunlight and less competition [39].  It occurs in seral to climax sagebrush habitats in Nevada and Idaho [3,37], and in seral to climax lodgepole forests in Oregon [49].  It is also a component of climax pinyon-juniper habitats in Colorado [10]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Tailcup lupine is a cool-season species with maximum growth occurring in the spring [47].  Flowering begins in May in Utah and Colorado, and in June in Wyoming and Montana [8].  Fruits are generally mature by July or August [41].


SPECIES: Lupinus caudatus
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Tailcup lupine has a stout, deep taproot and it sprouts from the caudex following disturbance.  Seeds are stored in the soil and germinate on mineral soil in full sun or partial shade.  Stored seeds are usually 100 percent viable [39]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY:    Caudex, growing points in soil    Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Lupinus caudatus
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Aboveground parts of tailcup lupine are generally consumed by fire [55]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: Some lupines are fire survivors and are present in the initial stages of postfire plant succession [18].  Tailcup lupine is favored or relatively unaffected by fire in sagebrush or pinyon-juniper habitats.  It also germinates from buried seed after fire [33,52].  Pechanec [29] stated that top-killed plants may make a ready recovery and rapid increase in vigor, but an increase in plant numbers must await seed production, usually in the second growing season after burning. In sagebrush-grassland habitats of the Upper Snake River Plains, Idaho, intense fire resulted in lower postfire forb production, most likely due to the destruction of buried seeds.  Lupines (Lupinus caudatus and L. leucophyllus), however, were favored by burning.  Biomass production of the two species at postfire year 12 years is as follows [4]:                            lbs/acre               kg/ha            _____________________________________________________            Unburned          2.3                   2.6            Light burn        3.6                   4.1            Moderate burn     5.4                   6.1            Heavy burn       54.4                  61.2 In sagebrush habitats in the Great Basin Rate of Spread Study, done in Nevada, there was a flush of forb growth, including tailcup lupine, following fire.  This growth was attributed to heat breaking seed dormancy, increased available nutrients, and possibly the removal of inhibitory compounds in shrub litter [33].  Following the Red Rock Fire in Nevada, tailcup lupine increased steadily in density in the first 4 postfire years [54]. Tailcup lupine was present 4 years after severe natural fires in pinyon-juniper stands in Colorado, with a postfire frequency of 8 percent.  Its frequency on sites burned 29 years earlier was 2 percent, but it was not present in a 90-year-old burn in the same area [10]. Tailcup lupine was present in all stages of postfire succession in pinyon-juniper habitats in Nevada and California.  Occurrence and cover percentages follow [21]: Successional stage    Years since fire         Occurrence              Cover _____________________________________________________________________________ Early                     0-1                     46.0                 9.0 Early-Mid                 4-8                     20.0                 7.0 Mid                      15-17                    32.0                 0.0 Mid-Late                 22-60                    25.0                13.0 Late                      60+                     19.0                 0.0 Some authors report that tailcup lupine is slightly to moderately damaged by fire [29,31,38]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE: On ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir communities in the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon, tailcup lupine cover and frequency in postfire year 4 were higher on thinned-and-burned sites than on thinned, prescribed burned, or unburned control sites.  Tailcup lupine was determined to be an indicator species for thinned-and-burned sites (P0.05).  For further information on the effects of thinning and burning treatments on tailcup lupine and 48 other species, see the Research Project Summary of Youngblood and others' [56] study. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Lupinus caudatus
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