The Lupines are back!
Waves of purple lupine are once again gracing the shoreline of Tahoe City and Lake Forest. When the lake level is low, thick congregations of two to three foot tall lupine take over the flat moist areas next to Tahoe’s edge. While only sporting their most vibrant colors for a few weeks, at their peak they are an amazing sight to see. Especially if you take that photo with the deep blue of Lake Tahoe in the background. And by the way, right now they are at their peak.
There are over 200 species of lupinus, or lupine plants in the world, with over 90 just in California, and quite a few here in the Sierra. From the diminutive brewers lupine to the large leaf and broad leaf lupines that grace Tahoe’s beaches, the plant has one easily identifiable characteristic: The leaves look like hands with many fingers pointing out. Whichever form of lupines you find, they are prolific, often thickly covering the ground where you find them.
What is interesting this spring was that when Tahoe’s lake level quickly rose due to a wet spring and rapidly melting snow, some of the lupines next to the Truckee River got caught underwater as the water rose. While the lake appears to have reached it’s maximum for this year, if we get a big winter next year’s lupines may not have a place to grow.
How to get there:
Tahoe City: The lupines sit in front of the Tavern Shores development, right where the Truckee River meets Lake Tahoe. Walk behind the Gatekeepers Museum next to the Truckee River Dam and you can’t miss them.
Bristlecone Street: In Lake Forest, take Bristlecone Street to the small park on the lakeshore. There between the beach and the “island” another large patch will capture your attention.