Fabaceae (Legume Family)

Beans & Peas. But also some trees, hedges, clovers, & vetches. Almost all have the distinctive "pea-like" flower, so often referred to in nature guides: 5 sepals, 5 petals, 10 stamens, and a single compartment pistil that developes a single row of seeds. The two lower petals are fused along their edges, to form the "keel", the two lateral or side petals often stand out from the keel to form the "wings", and the upper petal, usually the largest, forms the banner.

The fruit, when dry, usually splits open forcefully, effectively scattering the seeds. I have heard stories of walking along the trails on Montara Mountain while the Lupine are popping, but have yet to experience this. (Lupines, both annual and perennial variety, make wonderful garden plants, and can easily be propagated from seed.)

Many of the species found in the Bay Area are introduced aliens; some on purpose, some accidentally. On Montara Mountain, particularly bothersome invasives include Bird's Foot Lotus and the infamous French Broom, species that are so aggressive they inhibit any native vegetation from re-establishing in disturbed areas. Elimination is advised.

 Fabaceae is well represented on Montara Mountain. Members include:

French Broom
Genista monspessulana

Wild Sweet (Everlasting) Pea
Lathyrus latifolius

Pacific Pea
Lathyrus vestitus

Bird's Foot Lotus
Lotus corniculatus

Mat Forming Lotus
Lotus heermannii
var. orbicularis

Deer Weed
Lotus scoparius

Yellow Bush Lupine
Lupinus arboreus

Montara Mtn Blue Bush Lupine
Lupinus eximus

Varicolored Lupine
Lupinus variicolor

Bur Clover
Medicago polymorpha

Indian Meliot (Sour Clover)
Melilotus indica

Hop Clover
Trifolium campestre

Little Hop Clover
Trifolium dubium

Rose Clover
Trifolium hirtum

Giant Vetch
Vicia gigantea



Lupinus arboreus:
Yellow Bush Lupine

Fabaceae (Legume Family)


Flowers: Yellow, pea-like, very fragrant; in large whorls along tall stems.

Blooms: April - Jul y

Leaves: Dark green to green-grey, 5 or more leaflets radiating out from centers.

Fruit/Seeds: Small, round and black -in pods - green fuzzy at first, turning brown and then gray-black after opening. See LupineSeeds.

Location: Everywhere on the mountain.

Status: Native - Common.

Further description & Comment: Variable in form, from low mattes to 5 ft tall bush, Evergreen. Along with Poison Oak, Coastal Sage, Coyote Bush and Sticky Monkey Flower, one of the signature plants of Montara Mountain.

Yellow bush is very easily grown from seed. Collect the seeds just as the pods are turning from green to black, and plant immediately. Older seeds may need to be soaked and scoured first.

Lupinus arboreus
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This flower whorl is about 10 " long, and the leaves are of the darker green variation. Along Martini Creek.

 Yellow Bush Lupine is seen here in a low growing form - often along eroding cliffs or wind-swept areas, it naturally adapts to it's microclimate. Note the yellow-green stems of the flower stalks. Lupinus eximus (Montara Mtn Blue Bush Lupine) usually has darker, reddish stems.  This handsome bush is currently still growing along Martini Creek on the south side of the mountain. It stands about 5 ft tall, with flower whorls up to 12 inches long. 634x442 JPEG - 52K



Lupinus eximus:
Montara Mtn. Blue Bush Lupine

Fabaceae (Legume Family)

Flowers: Pea like in whorls on tall stems; white banner with lower petals blue to purple, sometimes lavender.

Blooms: March - April

Leaves: Dark green to green-gray, five or more leaflets radiating from centers

Fruit/Seeds: Small, round and black -in pods - green fuzzy at first, turning brown and then gray-black after opening. April - June. See LupineSeeds.

Location: Above 500 ft elevations, along San Pedro road and up the peak trails.

Status: Native - Rare.

Further description & Comment: Usually bush like, up to 4 ft tall, some low growing forms. Tends to form colonies. Lupinus eximus. is found only on Montara Mountain.

Lupinus eximus
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This is one of its more lovely multicolored forms from San Pedro Valley County Park. Note the fresh, fuzzy green seed pods on the left.

Photo by Mike Vasey.

 Although its relative Lupinus arboreus (Yellow Bush Lupine) grows very easily from seed, efforts to get Lupinus eximus to grow have not been sucessful. The seeds will sprout if collected just as the pod turns from green to black, but the plants seldom mature. It's been suggested that a combination of higher altitude and very specific granite soils are needed for the plant to properly grow. Considering that all the accessible specimens are within Park boundaries, the seeds should not be collected anyway.

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Photo by Bill and Barbara VanderWerf

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This colony of bushes grows along San Pedro Mtn Road, above Green Valley in McNee Ranch State Park at about the 700 ft elevation level. San Pedro Mtn is in the background.  A closeup of the abundance of blooms of the Green Valley plants; note the reddish stems, distinctive from the usually lighter and greensish stems of Lupinus arboreus (Yellow Bush Lupine.)



Lupinus variicolor:
Varicolored Lupine

Fabaceae (Legume Family)

Flowers: Pea like, petals mixture of white to red - to blue and purple. Usually upper flowers white, in clusters at top of stems.

Blooms: April - June

Leaves: Five or more leaflets radiating from centers.

Fruit/Seeds: Small black, developing in small, dark green pods. May - July.

Location: Grassy trails - lower San Pedro Road, Gray Whale Cove trail.

Status: Native - Common.

Further description & Comment: Form varies - from covering mats to small shrub up to 2 '. The habitats of L. variicolor are being threatened by the alien invasives Lotus corniculatus (Bird's Foot Lotus) , Bellardia trixago (Bellardia) and Trifolium hirtum (Invasive Rose Clower)

Lupinus variicolor
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Mid to Late Spring is the best time to view L. variicolor's colorful displays along the trails of Montara Mountain.

 A good closeup of the prevelant coloring of L. variicolor on the south side of Montara Mountain at the lower elevations.
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 The classic "bi-color" form, or "Sky Lupine"
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One of the more intriguing color variations
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The yellow-white variation found above Devil's Slide
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 Colonies of L. variicolor cover the meadow at the Quarry Habitat Restoration site in McNee Ranch State Park.


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