Gulf Coast Lupine – South Walton Beaches
Gulf Coast Lupine is a surprising discovery on the beaches of South Walton. In many areas of the world, spring is the time where wild flowers burst into bloom and put on a show before the heat of summer arrives. So when I moved to the beach, I was quite surprised to see gorgeous blue flowers growing in the beautiful white sand along South Walton beaches. These showy blue flowers are Gulf Coast Lupine (Lupinus westianus) and are native to Florida. Because they form long tap roots, sandy soil allows the plant to drive the root deep into the ground. This is what makes the Florida panhandle an ideal environment for the plant. The shrubby biennial lives 4-6 years and usually flowers the second year. Unfortunately, Gulf Coast Lupine is a threatened species. Most of the plants live in habitats that have already been highly developed. Pedestrian, horse, and off-road vehicle traffic further harm their survival. Many people pick the beautiful blue flowers which also threatens the species. Finally, natural disasters have lead to a decline in the amount of Gulf Coast Lupine. There are no known conservation measures to protect the plant, but the species is known to exist in some protected areas like Deer Lake State Park and Topsail Hill State Park right here in Walton County. Let’s do our part to admire this stunning flower and keep in mind it’s threatened status. We are fortunate to experience this beautiful wildflower on the beaches of South Walton.