The controversial lupin

The Nootka lupin (Lupinus nootkatensis) is very apparent in the Icelandic landscape at this time of year. Lupin seeds were first imported to Iceland in 1945 and used for land reclamation in desert areas all over the country, – with great results.

Alaska luðina – Nootka lupin – Lupinus nootkatensis

The lupin grows in  fields in barren land and creates a fertile soil for other plants. In about 30 to 40 years it starts to give way to other plants and that is now happening in the oldest areas. The soil has proved good for forestry.

Sólheimasandur, South Iceland

The lupin has from the start been controversial.  Some Icelanders are against land reclamation and view this plant as an alien intruder. Others are concerned because the lupin might eliminate other fragile vegetation such as heather.

Birch planted in old Lupin field

Yet another group welcomes this plant and its beautiful blue fields of flowers in the Icelandic landscape.

Blue colours are dominant but others exist
Blue colours are dominant but others exist

In Iceland the tradition has been to drive flocks of sheep into the interior where they are allowed to graze the whole summer long.  The result of this has been massive land deterioration and erosion. The lupin only grows in areas that are protected against sheep grazing because the sheep love lupin. Therefore there is no need for concern in areas where sheep graze. The bottom line is that the lupin is effective if the aim is to reclaim land and eliminate erosion.