Lupins in Iceland, where and when do they bloom?

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The Lupin (Lupinus nootkatensis) is a flowering plant that turns large parts of Iceland into a purple world in summer. A beautiful sight! Many tourists come to Iceland especially in the summer for the flowering purple plants. They often have the idea that those purple fields full of blooming lupins are typically Icelandic. The opposite is true; the lupin plant is not native.

How did the lupin get into Iceland?

The first settlers cut down so many native birch trees and shrubs that by the mid-20th century only 25% of the original forestation remained. People realized that things had to change now that the soil was no longer protected by vegetation and the risk of erosion was increasing. A representative of the Icelandic Forest Service left for Alaska to look for trees and plants to replant in Iceland. And so it happened; in 1945 the Lupin came with him to Iceland from Alaska in a suitcase.

Reynisdrangar black beach with lupins in Iceland -
Early June, lupins just barely in bloom

Lupin, alias Úlfabaunir

Úlfabaunir is what Icelanders call the purple plant. The lupin belongs to the butterfly flower family and thrives very well in the Icelandic climate. And that’s not surprising, since Alaska’s climate is similar. Perhaps the lupin feels a little too good in Iceland. The plant was deliberately planted in certain places but has now become widespread in the wild.

Lupins; threat to native Icelandic flora

The lupin can take nitrogen from the air, convert it into organic matter and then provide the soil with natural fertilizer. A soil improver, then, on the one hand, allowing many local flora to persist. On the other hand, lupin is a threat to native flora, for example the ancient Icelandic moss. Local conservation activists are working hard to destroy the rampant plant in the wrong places, as for example in the famous lava field Eldhraun. It is feared that over the years the lupin will migrate toward the highlands. This will cause a drastic and probably permanent change in the local flora.

Blooming lupins Iceland -
Mid-June, lupins are sprouting

Where do you find lupins in Iceland?

In the southern part of Iceland you will find lots of lupins. For about two months in summer here, as far as you can see, it is purple, purple and more purple. Especially between Vík í Mýrdal and Kirkjubæjarklaustur the lupins bloom abundantly. Gravel-rich soil likes the lupin, so you see it a lot along the roadside, on and at the edges of the black beaches in this region and in other vast places with gravelly soil.

When does the lupin bloom in Iceland?

It depends on the weather, but almost every year the lupin begins to sprout in early June. By then it is already nice and green everywhere and here and there you can see the first purple buds appearing. It will then take a few more weeks for the lupin to bloom fully. For two months it will be beautifully purple in southern Iceland. Native or not; it does produce nice pictures!

Discover Iceland with a rental car

Iceland is actually best discovered by car. You have the time to yourself, you can stay longer in one place if you like or drive back to that beautiful sight. I prefer to rent a car at Sunny Cars. Sunny Cars has an all-in formula that insures you for everything. No hassle with extra insurances on the spot, everything is pre-arranged. In case of unexpected damage? Then your excess is simply reimbursed. Ideal! Are you looking for nice places to stay during your search for flowering lupines along the south coast? Then read this article with nice accommodations in the south of Iceland.

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