homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner
Lupinus mutabilis - Sweet.
Common Name Pearl Lupin, Tarwi
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards The seed of many lupin species contain bitter-tasting toxic alkaloids, though there are often sweet varieties within that species that are completely wholesome[65, 76]. Taste is a very clear indicator. These toxic alkaloids can be leeched out of the seed by soaking it overnight and discarding the soak water. It may also be necessary to change the water once during cooking. Fungal toxins also readily invade the crushed seed and can cause chronic illness[65].
Habitats Found in the Andes[177].
Range S. America - Colombia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun


Lupinus mutabilis Pearl Lupin, Tarwi

Lupinus mutabilis Pearl Lupin, Tarwi
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Lupinus mutabilis is a ANNUAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is frost tender. It is in leaf 10-May It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.


 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Oil;  Oil;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Oil;  Oil.

Seed - cooked[141]. Used as a protein-rich vegetable or savoury dish in any of the ways that cooked beans are used. The seed can also be ground into a meal and then used with cereal flours in making bread etc[196]. The seed contains up to 50% protein that is rich in lysine and cystine but very low in methionine[183, 196]. If the seed is bitter this is due to the presence of toxic alkaloids, these alkaloids can usually be removed by soaking the seed overnight and discarding the water[200]. Another report suggests that the seed needs to be soaked for 2 - 3 days in order to leech out the alkaloids[183]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[141, 183]. It is relatively rich in unsaturated fatty acids, including the nutritionally essential linoleic acid[196].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known
Other Uses
Green manure;  Oil;  Oil.

Seed yields up to 18% of an edible oil with uses similar to Soya oil (Glycine soya)[141, 177]. Soya oil has a very wide range of applications and is commonly used in the chemical industry[171, 206]. It is also used in making soap, plastics, paints etc[34, 46, 100]. An excellent green manure crop, it is able to fix as much as 400kg of atmospheric nitrogen per hectare[196].
Cultivation details
An easily grown plant, succeeding in any moderately good soil in a sunny position[200]. Requires an acid to neutral soil[200]. This species might be intolerant of lime[1]. Succeeds on poor soils, its taproot breaking up the sub-soil[196]. Once established, it is a very drought tolerant plant[196]. Mature plants tolerate frost[196]. This has not been our experience, although they tolerate light frosts, the plants are killed by heavy or prolonged frosts[K]. The pearl lupin is cultivated in Tropical and Sub-tropical zones for its edible seed, there are many named varieties. The seed of most forms contains bitter alkaloids that need to be leached out before the seed can be eaten, however there are some forms that have sweet alkaloid-free seeds[141]. This species has excellent potential as a food crop in temperate zones. It is day-length neutral, flowering and fruiting well at most latitudes[196]. The plants flower and ripen seed continuously until killed by cold weather, making mechanical harvesting difficult[196]. Plants take from 5 - 11 months to fully ripen their crop[196]. The genes for low-alkaloid types are recessive so they have to be grown separated from other forms if the strains are to be kept pure[196]. It is also probable that plants will hybridize with other species in this genus[196]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and sow in mid spring in situ[1, 200]. You may need to protect the seed from mice. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. The seed can also be sown in situ as late as early summer as a green manure crop.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Lupinus albusWhite Lupin41
Lupinus albus graecus 40
Lupinus angustifoliusBlue Lupin, Narrowleaf lupine40
Lupinus arboreusTree Lupin, Yellow bush lupine00
Lupinus hirsutus 20
Lupinus littoralisSeashore Lupine20
Lupinus luteusYellow Lupin, European yellow lupine30
Lupinus nootkatensisBlue Lupine, Nootka lupine30
Lupinus perennisSundial Lupine31
Lupinus polyphyllusBig-Leaf Lupin, Lupine11
Lupinus tauris 00
Lupinus termisWhite Lupin20
Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

      You can download this page as a PDF

Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
Brian Cady Mon Mar 28 21:12:31 2005

Link: Lost Crops of the Andes: Tarwi Chapter

Elizabeth H.
Brian Cady Tue Feb 22 05:20:18 2005

Link: From the Andes; First Potato,Then Quinoa, Now Tarwi? Article printed in _The Natural Farmer_, Fall, 2004

Elizabeth H.
Brian Cady Mon Mar 28 21:18:49 2005
Book title misremebered: should be _Lost Crops of the Incas_
Elizabeth H.
Boguslav Mon Jul 31 2006

Lupins Geography, classification, genetic resources and breeding

QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.
Add a comment/link

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

Subject : Lupinus mutabilis  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design


Content Help
Support Us
Old Database Search
About Us
Sign In

PFAF Newsletter

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email newsletter. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.