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PHOTOS: Celebration of Lupines in Sugar Hill

Each June in New Hampshire marks the season of lupine. Visitors flock to the Franconia Notch area to admire the purple wildflowers and take photos.

Each June in New Hampshire marks the season of lupine. Visitors flock to the Franconia Notch area to admire the purple wildflowers and take photos. The flowers reach their peak in early to mid June, filling the fields along the roads and trails in communities near Sugar Hill with pink and purple hues.

The sights and smells of lupines draw tourists to the area with binoculars and cameras in tow.

The plant has a storied past, and even some controversy in certain regions today.

Dave Anderson, senior director of Education at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and co-host of Something Wild on NHPR, notes the difference between native lupines — like the Lupinus perennis in Maine — and other species of the flowering plant.

The name itself points to some early misunderstanding of the lupine — some thought it robbed the soil of its nutrients.

"The reality," Anderson says, "is lupine is also a nitrogen fixer and it enriches soil by fixing nitrogen, just like most legumes do, returning that to the soil, and also it's a pollinator, a source of pollen for insects and hummingbirds."

Listen to Anderson speak about lupines in this video.

The lupine, or wolf flower, is named after the Latin word for wolf, “Lupus.” The Bureau of Land Management teaches visitors that lupines are named after wolves, due to the belief that both wolves and the poisonous lupine plants killed livestock. Now, lupines are celebrated as an opportunity to explore Sugar Hill and admire fields of cone-shaped flowers.

Tip: To sound like a local, pronounce lupine like “loo-pin,” not “loo-pine.”

The Lupine Festival website features self-guided walking and driving tours for people hoping to take part in this New Hampshire tradition.

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