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July 13 | Tim Hauserman
One of the advantages of the paltry winters of late, is that a plethora of beautiful lupines are now growing on our wider than normal Lake Tahoe beaches. Whether it is in front of Tavern Shores, just south of the start of the Truckee River in Tahoe City, or the area between the “Island” and the shore at the end of Bristlecone Street in Lake Forest, wild and thick batches of deep purple lupines are blooming ferociously, and bringing crowds of people out to take a look.
Recently I got on my bike from my house in Sunnyside and rode the bike trail out to Bristlecone to check out the flowers. Not only was the lupine display absolutely amazing, but I arrived to find a painting competition underway. A number of artists were in the process of producing their own unique depiction of the amazing combination of purple lupine, dark blue lake and light blue sky. It was the North Lake Tahoe Plein Air Open, where artists from all over the region come to paint in the delightful fresh air of Tahoe. They discovered that the fields of flowers with the lake in the background was the perfect place to set up their easels.
Lupine is a genius of flowering plants in the legume family, with over 200 species found throughout America. In the Lake Tahoe region alone there are over a dozen species, from the teensy and delicate Brewer’s Lupine to the large dark purple Torrey’s and Tahoe lupine, as well as what you are most likely seeing and giving your oohs and ahhs to on the beach: The Large Leaf Lupine. It lives up to its name with large, finger like leaves, and tons of dark blue/purple flowers.
While Lupine’s will hold their bloom for longer than many other mountain flowers, they will not last forever. So get thee down to the lakeshore and enjoy this amazing display of nature. I promise they will make you smile.