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Lupinus mutabilis - Sweet.                
Common Name Pearl Lupin, Tarwi
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
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  
Medicinal Rating  
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun


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.

USDA hardiness zone : 8-11

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.

Lupinus mutabilis Pearl Lupin, Tarwi

Lupinus mutabilis Pearl Lupin, Tarwi
 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.
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[34]Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G. The Oxford Book of Food Plants.
Good drawings of some of the more common food plants from around the world. Not much information though.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[100]Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide.
An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.
[141]Carruthers. S. P. (Editor) Alternative Enterprises for Agriculture in the UK.
Some suggested alternative commercial crops for Britain. Readable. Produced by a University study group.
[171]Hill. A. F. Economic Botany.
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some a bit of detail about the plants it does cover.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[196]Popenoe. H. et al Lost Crops of the Incas
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[206]Larkcom J. Oriental Vegetables
Well written and very informative.

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

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