Bumblebees and native bees are a big component in the health of the Miniature Lupine. By the process of pollination, bees are accountable for the production and health of two-thirds of the world’s crop production and 70% of angiosperms (Xerces 2013).  Pollination consists of bees taking pollen and using the nutritional parts to feed its young (MSU 2013). Once finished, it results in moving pollen from one plant to the next creating the reproduction of new seeds and fruits of multiple plants (Xerces 2013). This mutualistic relationship between Bumblebees, native bees and the Lupinus bicolor help the process of reproduction for the plant and give a valuable nutritional food source for their developing offspring (MSU 2013). Some specific examples of pollinators would be the Bald-face Hornet and the Flower Fly.  When the plant is full of pollen and is ready to be pollenated, the colors of the petals are a white/light blue color (SPLASH 2013). Once pollination occurs within the organism, the petals change to a violet/dark blue color signaling to pollinators that there is no more pollen left (SPLASH 2013). Although L. bicolor interacts with pollinators, they don’t solely rely on pollination for reproduction. Though bees can help with pollinating, the Lupinus bicolor self-fertilizes after and can still reproduce without their help. Check out the Reproduction page for more information.

Image 11 (above). Showing interaction of Bumble bee and a flower as it is pollinating.

Humming Birds and Butterflies
Similar to the bee’s relationship to the Miniature Lupine, hummingbirds and butterflies use its nectar for a nutritional food source. Not one specific species of hummingbirds use the nectar of Lupinus bicolor, but a variety of species, which means that it benefits multiple species from its nectar alone (Calflora 2013). Examples of these species would be the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth and the Fall webworm. In relation specific to butterflies, the Arrowhead Blue butterfly uses Lupinus bicolor as hosts for the caterpillar stage to gather nutrients, grow, and morph into a butterfly (Moths and Butterflies 2013).

l bicolor with other flowerCalifornia Poppy
The Miniature Lupine is frequently found with another organism called Eschsholzia californica, more commonly known as the California Poppy. Both of the plants have similar growing methods and live simultaneously without a problem. Not to mention, the lavender color of the Miniature Lupine and the vibrant orange color of the Poppy combine to create a stunning view.

Image 12. Lupinus bicolor in co-habitation with a variety of the Eschosholzia genus. Photo used with permission from and taken by Mark Skinner.

Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria
Nitrogen is one of the most abundant gasses on this earth but many plants struggle with being nitrogen deprived. Why is this? It’s because most Nitrogen in the universe is comprised of a specific molecular structure, which is not useful in plants (The Microbial World 2013). Since Nitrogen has the biggest influence in growth and biomass productivity, it is an important element in the health and strength of a plant. One way to solve this Nitrogen deficiency is a process called Nitrogen Fixation shown in figure 13 (The Microbial World 2013). This process occurs in the root structures of the Lupinus bicolor in which it houses the fixing bacteria. The bacteria take Nitrogen in gas form and make it available to plants. Through this method, the bacteria are able to convert those complex chemical structures into useful elements, such as Nitrate and Ammonia (The Microbial World 2013). The products of Nitrogen fixation are used to make proteins and amino acids to assist the growth of the plant. 

Studies have been tested on the effects of the destructive gopher mounds and the ability of multiple plants to regain their health through Nitrogen Fixating bacteria. Interactions with gopher mounds can change multiple settings in the soil, which will eventually affect the species richness and colony abundance of each organism originally growing there (Canals et al. 2005). Gopher mounds are shown to disrupt 30% of the grasslands of California (Canals et al. 2005). With the stirring of nutrients in the soil from the gopher mounds, pools of inorganic Nitrogen is often found which affects various plant growth and Nitrogen uptake for each organism (Canals et al. 2005). In a recent study, scientists have found that there was a low uptake inorganic Nitrogen but compared to other species in the same environment, L. bicolor had a similar amount of Nitrogen in its system (Canals et al. 2005). Based on these results, it can be concluded that the Nitrogen in its system is a result of symbiotic Nitrogen fixation (Canals et al. 2005).  Through symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation, a mutualistic relationship is formed between Nitrogen Fixing bacteria and the Lupinus bicolor where the bacteria is given organic Carbon and a place to live and Lupinus bicolor is given the fixed Nitrogen it needs to produce the necessary materials for growth.

                              nitrogen cycle

Figure 13. Flow chart of the interactions of several organisms through the process of Nitrogen Fixation.

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