A weekend trip to central northern Oregon and southern Washington yielded more than a few photographic opportunities. The wildflowers were out in abundance on both sides of the Columbia River. I found Paul Slichter’s Wildflower Viewing Areas in the Columbia River Gorge and Currently Blooming Wildflowers in Oregon & Washington to be invaluable guides in planning the trip.
Paul prefers the name Lupinus latifolius var. thompsonianus for this taxon; if treated as such, it is a Columbia River Gorge endemic, found only on low- to mid-elevation hillsides bordering on a 70km (40mi) stretch of the river. The Integrated Taxonomic Information System, however, synonymizes this variety with Lupinus onustus, a species with a broader range as it is also found in California. The USDA PLANTS database, which nearly always complies with ITIS, suggests a different name. It lists this entity as Lupinus sericeus subsp. sericeus var. thompsonianus. To add to the confusion, the range maps for both Lupinus sericeus subsp. sericeus var. thompsonianus and Lupinus onustus in the PLANTS database exclude Washington state, where this photograph was taken.
Have I mentioned yet that the taxonomy of Lupinus is confusing? “In the New World, Lupinus is notorious for being a very complex and difficult genus. Taxonomic confusion exists in the literature, where numerous taxa or groups are distinguished based on only a few minor and inconsistent morphological characters. Over 1700 names have been proposed for Lupinus. Approximately 200 species clustered in 18 groups were suggested by Smith (1944) for North America. Taking into account new evidence from various approaches, it became clear to modern authors that the complexity of this genus resulted from its high morphological, breeding system, and ecogeographical diversity and the lack of clear diagnostic features to separate species” (quoted from the opening paragraphs of Ainouche, A-K and R. Bayer. 1999. Phylogenetic relationships in Lupinus (Fabaceae: Papilionoideae) based on internal transcribed spacer sequences (ITS) of nuclear ribosomal DNA. Am. J. Bot. 86:590-607.).