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Lupine flower is named for ravaging wolf

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The plant Barbara Bentley loves best has a strange name for something so delicate and pretty. Lupine is the Latin word for wolflike.

"Loopin" is the correct way to pronounce it, and some botanists - including Bentley - prefer to spell it lupin to better reflect the pronunciation.She tells this story of how it got its name:

In ancient times, Europeans noticed that lupines grew on poor soil where no other plants ventured. The fact is, they can live in such places because the bacteria in their roots remove nitrogen from the air, fix it inside the plant and supply nitrogen fertilizer that the soil lacks.

But the early observers only knew that these plants lived in otherwise barren spots. They assumed they had taken some nutrient from the soil that other plants needed. Thinking the plant was like a wolf robbing the fold, they called it "wolflike."