The Scrub Lupine is endemic to the Winter Haven and Mt. Dora Ridges in Central Florida. By 2010, only 7 of the original wild populations remained from the 45 known to exist prior to 2002. Commercial and residential development has replaced Scrub Lupine populations, their scrub habitat, and the community of species with which they coexist.
In 2008, the Rare Plant Conservation Program at Bok Tower Gardens began the Scrub Lupine Project with grant funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry. The project was designed to help save the Scrub Lupine from extinction. In pursuit of this goal, the project focused on 1) the conservation of all remaining germplasm of the species, 2) the development of successful propagation methods, and 3) the establishment of healthy populations at protected sites within the historic range of the species.
In December 2010, the population at Mackay Gardens and Lakeside Preserve was planted and became one of 5 populations introduced by the Rare Plant Conservation Program and its many partners. The Scrub Lupine Project owes its success to hundreds of volunteers who have donated countless hours, as well as organizations across Central Florida, including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Ridge Rangers volunteer group, University of Central Florida, the Natives Nursery, Florida Native Plant Society, CSX Transportation, Cincinnati Zoo, and many others.
The Scrub Lupine plays an important role in the scrub habitat because it provides food for pollinators and, as a legume, it is able to capture atmospheric nitrogen. This is possible because legumes have evolved symbiotic relationships with microorganisms in native soils. Moreover, the scrub habitat is itself a vital part of Florida’s natural heritage. It is essential to groundwater recharge, the existence of thousands of endemic species, and the capture of atmospheric carbon.