Tons of flowers for such a little plant!
Prairie Lupine is found in many habitats - from lowland prairies, to dry subalpine meadows. Its purple flowers draw the eyes down towards the ground, where this little plant can be found sporting flowers that seem larger than the plant itself.
One interesting place to see this plant is on the north side of Mt St Helens (Loowit), where we can see the pioneering nature of lupines. Even more than 40 years after the eruption, areas close to the north side of the mountain are still bare. There is very little soil here, and much of the ground is pumice. Prairie Lupine is one of very few plants that seems to do well here, and there are entire fields composed of Prairie Lupine and little else. This is due to nitrogen-fixing bacteria which lupines host in their root systems, allowing lupines to grow where few other plants can.
In addition to beautiful flowers, this plant also has pollen for native bees and seeds for birds. We have also seen the occasional native ground squirrel biting off entire flower heads and eating them whole!
Photo Credit: By Mount Rainier National Park from Ashford, WA, United States - Dwarf Lupine, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46907011
Photo Credit: By Walter Siegmund (talk) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34190796