Botanical Source.—This is an annual with a stem nearly 2 feet high, having 5 to 7 foliate, palmate leaves, with obovate, oblong leaflets, from 1 to 2 inches in length. They are beset with white hairs beneath, but on their upper surface are smooth. The large, white, short-pedicelled flowers are borne in terminal spikes, or racemes. The fruit is a long, compressed pod, containing from 3 to 6 seeds which are flattish, circular, and of a white color. The seeds have no odor, but a bitterish taste.
History and Chemical Composition.—This plant is indigenous to west Asia and south Europe, besides being met with in our gardens. Various species of Lupinus produce in sheep the so-called lupinose disease. From Lupinus albus, a very bitter alkaloid, lupinine (or lupinotoxin of C. Arnold, Jahresb. der Pharm., 1883, p. 277), was isolated by Campani and Betelli (1882); it was soluble in ether, benzol, chloroform, and alkalized water. H. Weiske (Jahresb. der Pharm., 1883) records the comparative percentage of the toxic principle in various species of Lupinus; L. Cruckshankii contained most (1 per cent), L. hirsutus least of it (0.02 per cent), while L. albus contained 0.5 per cent. A. Soldaini (Archiv der Pharm., 1893, p. 321) found an optically inactive alkaloid (C15H24N2O) melting at 99° C. (230.2° F.), and a deliquescent alkaloid of the same formula. L. Sherman Davis, in Prof. Schmidt's laboratory, ascertained (Archiv der Pharm., 1897, p. 217) that the seeds of Lupinus albus contain two alkaloids:
1. (C15H24N2O), melting at 44° C. (111.2° F.) and Dextro-lupanin identical with the deliquescent alkaloid of Soldaini, as well as with the dextro-lupanin obtained by himself from the seeds of the Blue lupin, L. angustifolius, Linné.
2. Inactive lupanin (C30H48N2O), composed of equal molecules of dextro- and laevo-lupanin, which recalls the analogous isomerism existing in the tartaric acid series. The seeds of lupinus also contain the albuminous bodies conglutin and legumin (Ritthausen, 1883), soluble in diluted alkali, precipitable by acids, and separable by means of salt solution, in which the former is soluble. By distillation of the seeds of L. albus with water vapor, Campani and Grimaldi (1888) obtained vanillin.
Action and Medical Uses.—The ancients employed lupin medicinally. An enema of 5 ounces of lupin decoction produced, on two occasions, toxic symptoms, as follows: malaise, unpleasant sensations in the head, dimness of vision, palpebral heaviness, dizziness, Mental excitation, and laryngeal and pharyngeal constriction (Donnabella , Practitioner). Diuretic, anthelmintic, and emmenagogue properties have been ascribed to white lupin seeds, and the same, bruised and soaked in water, were formerly applied to ulcers.
Related Species.—Lupinus hirsutus, Linné (blue or rose flowers), and Lupinus luteus, Linné (yellow flowers), both of south Europe, have similar properties. L. luteus is the species that has been most frequently investigated. L. Berend (Dissert., Marburg, 1897) established in the seeds of this species the presence of two alkaloids, viz.: crystallizable lupinin ([C21H40N2O2], Baumert, 1881) and liquid lupinidin (C8H15N). It is exceedingly probable that the alkaloids of the various species of Lupinus stand in close chemical relationship to one another. E. Schulze and E. Steiger obtained from the germinated seeds of Lupinus luteus an alkaloid which they named arginine. The young plants likewise contain asparagin, glutanin, leucine, tyrosine, etc., probably as decomposition products from the albuminoids (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1887, p. 428). E. Steiger (Amer. Jour. Phar., 1886, p. 449) found in the seed of Lupinus luteus a peculiar dextrin-like substance, which he named beta-galactan. Attempts have also been made to utilize lupinus as food material by depriving it of its bitterness (see Baumert, Archiv der Pharm., 1888, p. 424). Many American species have like properties, among these are Lupinus perennis, Linné (blue-flowers), of eastern United States, and Lupinus densiflorus, Nuttall, and Lupinus polyphyllus, Nuttall, of the western states. The two latter are often found in gardens. (See chemical investigations of Black lupinus as well as L. polyphyllus, by K. Gerhard, in Archiv der Pharm., 1897, pp. 342-364.)
King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.